We celebrate engineering in our industry and engineers' contribution to building a better, sustainable world to raise awareness of how their work has saved millions of lives through clean water and sewage treatment systems, eradicating waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid. Additionally, innovations in water treatment and recycling ensure clean water for all, even in arid zones.
Despite these advances, over 1 billion people still lack access to clean water, and 2 billion have no access to basic sanitation.
Waterworks infrastructure is essential for our health and well-being. Working with engineers on projects brings many benefits, particularly regarding innovation and resilience. When public health is at stake, having the right team of professionals is essential.
Engineers at Ferguson Waterworks collaborating with other industry engineers, water professionals, local authorities and the government, all make a valuable contribution. Ferguson highlights their achievements on World Engineering Day, March 4, a United Nations-established day of celebration to promote engineers' contributions to sustainable development and raise awareness about their role in preserving our environment.
Rob Woodman, PE graduated in Civil Engineering from the University of Wollongong, Australia. He spent the first 10 years of his career as a design and project engineer for a private engineering consulting firm, gaining experience and expanding his knowledge of the industry on a wide variety of civil and stormwater engineering design projects for private and public sector clients throughout New England. In 2014, Rob took an opportunity to leverage his expertise in innovative stormwater and green infrastructure treatment systems. He transitioned from consulting to the product, solution and innovation side of the industry. Joining Ferguson through acquisition in 2020, Rob now serves our company as the National Manager of Urban Green Infrastructure.
Stormwater Solutions: Celebrating Engineering Innovation
Woodman says, “To create a resilient future, engineers are playing an increasingly important role in the management of wet weather impacts. Managing stormwater more effectively is essential for providing clean drinking water, protecting lakes, rivers, beaches and streams, and mitigating the downstream impact of the larger and more intense rainfall events that we are seeing throughout the country today. In order to make a true impact on the world that we are living in. Today, engineers are not simply designing isolated solutions but now are needing to connect their work to the important co-benefits that come along with implementation – those being environmental, social, and financial”.
Stormwater management systems collect precipitation from rain and snow, before it reaches our rivers and streams. The systems manage the volume of water and also filter the various pollutants this urban runoff carries. Pollutants such as trash and sediment, nutrients, oils, heavy metals, bacteria and other contaminants that would otherwise harm human health if consumed.
Stormwater runoff is becoming an ever-growing challenge as heavy rain events increase due to climate change. As such, engineers must design and implement efficient solutions to effectively filter, collect and store stormwater runoff before it can enter our waterways potentially contaminating drinking water supplies.
Woodman leads a team of engineers, designers, technical specialists and project managers dedicated to supporting civil engineers, landscape architects, developers and municipalities with a suite of innovative green infrastructure solutions. These innovative solutions have become popular options for flood mitigation and water quality improvements.
By utilizing natural features such as vegetated swales or rain gardens, green infrastructure strategies help capture stormwater onsite and reduce runoff into nearby streams or rivers. The soil “media” and vegetation in these systems also help filter out contaminants from polluted stormwater before reaching natural water bodies. Engineers are essential in designing these green infrastructure systems to meet local regulations and work effectively for site conditions. Woodman says, “one of the biggest challenges facing designers is needing to balance function with features, that is, ensuring the system operates as intended but also appeals aesthetically to the public.”
Urban Green Infrastructure Challenge: Engineers innovating to protect our nation’s waterways
In September 2021, Ferguson announced the winner of its first Urban Green Infrastructure Challenge. The Urban Green Infrastructure Challenge targets municipalities and conservation agencies in the U.S. that want to improve their water quality, protect downstream natural resources and meet regulatory requirements. The winner, Cumberland County Soil & Water Conservation District (CCSWCD) received tailored project support, expertise and funding to implement its green infrastructure plan within its community. Ferguson assisted CCSWCD in installing an educational bioretention system, a form of low-impact development.
For so many cities working to attain green infrastructure goals, funding can serve as an insurmountable roadblock. “Our goal is simple - support green infrastructure initiatives and programs. We strive to go beyond creating sales opportunities - we provide educational programs, develop creative design approaches and support project specification,” says Woodman. Ferguson, which relies heavily on the expertise of engineers working collaboratively is committed to supporting municipalities in realizing outcomes and results for residents, exciting and inspiring communities and establishing new partnerships and networks.
Engineering is a highly sought-after and respected profession. It requires great technical knowledge and problem-solving skills to be successful in the field. Ferguson celebrates all professional engineers like Woodman and the engineering services team within his group who use their expertise to serve, support, and work with engineers on major infrastructure projects. This role allows them to use their engineering knowledge while working collaboratively with others in the industry. They can provide input and advice while learning more about how different project parts come together.
Learn more about the Ferguson Waterworks Geo & Stormwater team and watch for more information on the 2023 Urban Green Infrastructure Challenge. Details to be released mid-March.