Environmental Engineering

Environmental Engineering Defined

What is environmental engineering? Do you pick up litter?” To which you probably know the answer to the second question is a definite “NO!!!”. However, you may not know the answer to the first question.

Encyclopedia

According to Britannica (https://www.britannica.com), “environmental engineering is the development of processes and infrastructure for the supply of water, the disposal of waste, and the control of pollution of all kinds.” These endeavours protect public health by preventing disease transmission, and they preserve the quality of the environment by averting the contamination and degradation of air, water, and land resources.

Wikipedia

According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org), environmental engineering is “a professional engineering discipline that takes from broad scientific topics like chemistry, biology, ecology, geology, hydraulics, hydrology, microbiology, and mathematics to create solutions that will protect and also improve the health of living organisms and improve the quality of the environment.” This definition is very similar to the one above. And note that both accurately define environmental engineering.

Engineering Meets Environment

Environmental Engineering Evolution

Historically, sanitary civil engineers did environmental engineering like work. However, they be-came known as environmental engineers in the mid-1960’s with the recognition of pollution and the outcries to clean it up. As a result, scientists and engineers answered the call. Firstly, they addressed water pollution. Next, they turned to air pollution. Finally, they focused on land pollution. They followed three landmark federal laws: the Clean Water Act (1972), the Clean Air Act (1970), and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, & Liability Act (1980). It is extremely impressive that the U.S. Congress passed these laws so quickly! And what they did was create the need for environmental regulations, permits, and agencies to accomplish the mission.

Agencies

Federal

Agencies, you ask? Firstly, let’s start at the top – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (https://www.epa.gov) came out of Reorganization Plan No. 3 calling for the establishment of that agency. That was an executive order which President Richard M. Nixon signed on July 9, 1970.

The EPA began operation on December 2, 1970. Wow, things seemed to move quickly fifty years ago!

State & Local

Once the EPA began publishing regulations to clean up the environment, they worked in cooperation with states to form departments or to use existing departments to implement the regulations. And so, state environmental departments formed to clean up the environment across each state. Cities and counties formed pollution control departments and divisions. Some health departments took on the responsibility.

EPA provided funding. States, counties, and cities needed it to comply. That was critical for projects such as new wastewater treatment plants. If the states did not enforce the environmental regulations, EPA would cut funding. And that meant jobs, worsening pollution, and outcries from the public. So there were many different incentives to comply.

Environmental Engineer’s Role

Formerly known as civil or sanitary engineers, environmental engineers came to the forefront. They assisted the various governmental agencies and the private sector with the environmental regulations.

Environmental Scientists

Environmental scientists and engineers began working together both in the government and private sectors. Their job? Ultimately, their job was to clean up the environment. Processes, equipment, and testing designs occurred in the areas of water, air, and land. And they are still at it today!

Conclusion

So there is a discussion of environmental engineering and what the environmental engineer’s role is! For further assistance, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) is here. ESC holds a Florida environmental engineering license and has a Professional Engineer (P.E.) on staff. We have the credentials and experience to help you with your environmental engineering needs. We service Bradenton, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, and Fort Myers. That includes Manatee, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Lee, and other counties from Pensacola (Escambia County) to Key West (Monroe County). So,  Contact ESC and get a reply promptly!

Environmental Permits Overview

What Environmental Permits are there?

Environmental Permits Bradenton and Sarasota

environmental permits.  Here are just a few:

Developments

  • Wetlands
  • Endangered Species

Industry & Construction

  • Air Permits for Air Discharges from Industry
  • Wastewater Discharge, Sanitary and Industrial
  • Hazardous Wastes, Transportation, Disposal & Storage
  • Stormwater, Retention Ponds, Detention Ponds, Stormwater Runoff – Construction and Industry

Other

  • Septic Tanks
  • Drinking Water, Private Wells and Community Supplies
  • Solid Wastes, Landfills & Incineration

Permit Needs

You have to review your planned operation to see if it will require environmental permits.  Then, you have to decide what part of the environment it may impact.  For example, will it impact air, water, or land?  To further explain, will it be changing the existing site?

Example 1

Example 1 is environmental permits for building and paving a site. As a result, that activity decreases percolation of rain water into the ground.  Because of that, more stormwater will run off the site. So, that could require a stormwater retention or detention pond permit. Further, it could require an NPDES  permit for industrial sites. Additionally, those sites may have to prepare a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP).

Example 2

Example 2 is environmental permits for certain industrial facilities.  In addition to the stormwater permits and plan identified in Example 1 above, there are other permits. For instance, sewer discharge permits may be required. Further, air permits may be needed.  Finally, are used oil and hazardous waste requirements.

Responsibility

Responsibility for acquiring the permits can fall on many different parties. For example, it can include developers and builders. Additionally, it may include banks, attorneys, architects, or engineers. Finally, it can include manufacturers, industrial facilities, hospitals, crematories, municipalities, and many more!

Lifelines

If you need lifelines, who should you call?  Firstly, some of the best lifelines are your associates. So, why is that true? Because their knowledge base can be a good starting point.  And so, who are your associates? To begin with, they may be your co-workers, partners, or managers. Next, outside of them, for instance, are your attorney, professional colleagues, and environmental engineering companies.  Finally, those associates may direct you to agencies or may contact the agencies themselves on your behalf.

Agencies

There are several key agencies which typically administer the various types of environmental permits.  Firstly, are local agencies. For example, these may include the Water Management Districts, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), counties, and cities.  Secondly, are federal agencies. For example, these may include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, www.epa.gov) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).  But, just be careful what you say.  Because, it is all in the presentation!

Let ESC Help

ESC Environmental Permits Overview

In conclusion, there are many permits identified in this Overview of Environmental Permits! But just remember that ESC is a Florida licensed engineering company with the experience and knowledge to help you. That is because our specialty is permits concerning air emissions, industrial discharges, NPDES stormwater, and more. We service Bradenton, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, and Fort Meyers. That includes Manatee, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Lee and other counties from Pensacola (Escambia County) to Key West (Monroe County). So,  Contact ESC and get a reply promptly!

Environmental Monitoring

Environmental monitoring covers a large field of testing.  The media include soil, groundwater, surface water, air, sediments, stormwater, and industrial wastewater.  The reasons for environmental monitoring are even more numerous.  From the regulatory side, it can be done for a permit application or exemption, a sanitary sewer pre-treatment ordinance, specific conditions of a permit, government regulated cleanups, investigation of spills or discharges, complaints from neighbors or employees, or regulatory citations.  In the non-regulatory area, it can be done to exercise due diligence as a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment, to prevent pollution, or to be proactive and demonstrate the company’s status as a good citizen who is concerned about the environment and the community.

environmental monitoring

There are two basic types of environmental monitoring.  The first type is done in situ (i.e., measured in the field directly on the sample media) most commonly with electronic meters, while the second type involves samples which are collected in the field and typically analyzed in a laboratory.  There are other types of readings taken in the field such as Secchi disks to determine transparency of surface water and visible evaluation of emissions from smoke stacks to determine the opacity of the smoke in comparison to allowable limits in air permits.

Samples can be discrete or grab samples or they can be composite samples collected over specified time internals or collected in proportion to the flow of a source.  Samples can be collected manually directly into the sample bottle or first into a sample collection device such as a bailer or vertical sampler which is then transferred into the sample bottle.  There are also automated samplers such as composite samplers and electric sampling devices such as peristaltic pumps, bladder pumps, and centrifugal pumps.  There are also samplers for specific tasks such as dredge samplers and corers for sediments and stack probes for air emissions.

Analysis of samples includes biological, physical, and chemical parameters.  Examples of biological analyses are benthic invertebrate identification, bioassays, zooplankton, and algal assays.  Physical analyses include particulate matter in air, turbidity (i.e., particulates in water), and temperature.  Chemical analyses include nutrients, pH, dissolved oxygen (typically done in the field, not laboratory), radioactivity, solvents, petroleum hydrocarbons, pesticides, inorganic chemicals, and organic chemicals.  Regulatory standards for these analytes can be found in various sections of Chapter 62 in the Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C., http://dos.myflorida.com/offices/administrative-code-and-register/) enforced by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.  Specific air testing methods are found in various Parts in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR,  https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/ECFR?page=browse.) enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In designing environmental monitoring, first, the objective must be identified.  It may be to meet regulatory requirements, to complete due diligence, or to determine if there has been a release of pollutants.  After that, the scope of work must be developed to meet the objective.  That will involve identifying the frequency of monitoring, types of samples, methods, analytes, interpretation of results, and report of results.  Standard Operating Procedures should be followed to insure the accuracy and precision of the data.  Equipment calibrations, Chain-of-Custody forms, and Field Book records need to be part of the monitoring.  Analysis of the samples should be done by a laboratory certified by the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) and accredited by the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (NELAP).  If the monitoring is not done in this manner, the results may be suspect, inaccurate, and inadmissable.

If it seems too daunting, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) can help you with your environmental monitoring.  We are a Florida-licensed Engineering business with over 32 years of experience.  We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

Industrial Wastewater Permits

Industrial Wastewater PermitsFlorida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) regulates wastewater discharges in Florida.  There are two types of wastewater, domestic and industrial.  Domestic wastewater is sanitary wastewater or sewage, while industrial wastewater is generally everything else.  Industrial wastewater can come from various sources.  These include manufacturing plants, industrial operations, construction, agricultural production and processing, commercial businesses, car washes, food processing facilities, ready mix concrete plants, boat repair yards, marinas, petroleum and solvent cleanup sites, mines, and more.

 

To be regulated, the discharges must have pollutants in them and be discharged to waters of the State (or to groundwater, which is not the focus of this article) or have a reasonable expectation to be a source of water pollution.  Waters of the state include rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, estuaries, bays, the gulf, and oceans.  Ditches that flow into these waters are included.

 

The pollutants are identified in 62-302, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.).  They include organic matter and chemicals, metals, nutrients, solvents, petroleum hydrocarbons, particulates, pesticides, radioactive materials, and more.

 

All industrial wastewater permits stem from the federal Clean Water Act enacted by the U.S. Congress in the 1970’s and implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, www.epa.gov) under its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).  In Florida, the NPDES regulations are implemented by FDEP (www.flwaterpermits.com).   Usually, the local FDEP District Office is the permitting authority.  Sometimes, it is a county environmental office and for a couple of permit types, it is the State FDEP Office in Tallahassee.

 

There are NPDES permits for point sources (e.g., discharge pipe from a manufacturing plant) and nonpoint sources (i.e., stormwater runoff).  In this article, we are focusing on point sources.  Regardless of that, FDEP issues one NPDES permit for the facility which serves as both the state and the federal permit.

 

Not every facility needs an individual industrial wastewater permit.  There are general or generic permits which cover common facilities with similar operations, pollutants, controls, and discharges.  These are available for concrete ready mix facilities, tomato wash operations, laundromats, fish farms, sand and limestone mines, fresh citrus wash water, and car wash systems.

 

The first step is to determine if you are discharging to waters of the State and if the discharge contains pollutants.  After that, you will need to calculate volumes and concentrations of pollutants in the discharge.  Testing may be required to determine the concentrations.  The testing may require a simple grab sample or may require a sample composited over 24 hours or more.  A state certified lab will be required to analyze the samples.  A Chain-of-Custody form will be required to follow the sample bottles from the laboratory shipping the empty bottles through sample collection, transportation, and submission to the laboratory.  While you may save money collecting the sample yourself, it pays great dividends to have a trained environmental scientist or engineer collect it.

 

Whatever your needs are, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) can help you evaluate your operation, test your discharge, and apply for your industrial wastewater permit.  We are a Florida-licensed Engineering business with a Professional Engineer (P.E.) on staff.  We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

Air Emissions Permits

air emissions permits and testing in florida

Air Emissions Permits Basics

Does your business need air emissions permits?  There are three considerations. Firstly, the answer depends on what types of equipment it operates, what chemicals it uses, and what kinds and quantities of pollutants it generates.  Secondly, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) focuses on larger emission sources and certain smaller sources. To explain smaller sources, it is the toxic pollutants they can emit. And, what are these smaller sources? They can include paint spray booths, dry cleaners, and fiberglass spa manufacturers.

Hazardous Air Pollutants & Nuisances

There are two categories of pollutants which are regulated. Firstly, are hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) which present a higher risk to human health. These include common chemicals like methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) in paint or solvents, tetrachloroethylene or perc used in dry cleaning, and styrene in fiberglass. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, www.epa.gov) determines HAPs. Secondly, are nuisances. For example, these nuisances include blowing dust, paint overspray, metals, or fuel odors, among others.  They can be emitted from a stack or from a building. The latter are fugitive emissions. The EPA and FDEP may require permits for these nuisances.

Air Emissions Permits Strategies

Obtaining an air emissions permit for a source, even a small one, can be a lengthy, complicated, and expensive process for any business.  Fortunately, there are some less harrowing alternatives for certain sources.  To begin with, the process can be modified. For example, use less hazardous chemicals. Secondly, reduce the amount of material escaping to the atmosphere. As a result, the emissions may drop below a permitting threshold.

For common sources with similar operations, there may be a general permit available with less rigorous application and compliance requirements.  To determine permit requirements, businesses must review their operations, chemicals, controls, and pollutants.  With this information, they will be ready to determine permit requirements.

Types of Permits

There are a few different types of air emissions permits:

  1. Title V Permits cover the largest sources and are the most complicated to obtain.

2. Federally Enforceable State Operating Permits (FESOPs) are for smaller sources which still require an individual permit.

3. General Permits cover commonly encountered sources such as concrete ready-mix plants, crematories, and other facilities.

Permit Applications

The air permit application is a two-step process for individual air emissions permits such as Title V Permits or FESOPs. Firstly, is the Construction Permit application. That allows construction and installation of the source. Second, is the Operating Permit application. That allows the source to operate.

Before you submit the Operating Permit application, the FDEP may require inspections, engineering certifications by a Florida Professional Engineer (P.E.), and emissions testing.   The Operating Permit contains general conditions and specific conditions which can include record keeping, testing, and reporting.

All permitting requirements originate from the Clean Air Act (CAA) passed years ago by Congress.  EPA has promulgated regulations to implement the CAA.  FDEP has passed its own state regulations to enforce the EPA’s federal regulations.  Check FDEP out at https://floridadep.gov.  Therefore, in Florida the FDEP is the air permitting authority.  So typically, contact the appropriate FDEP district office to determine permit requirements.  For some of the larger counties, the counties themselves are the permitting authority for the FDEP.  But, FDEP can tell you that.

Conclusion

Environmental Safety Consultants, Inc.
Here to serve you!

So, there you have it – a broad picture of air emissions permits in Florida.  Let us know if we at Environmental Safety Consultants can help you.  We service Bradenton, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, and Fort Meyers. That includes Manatee, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Lee and other counties from Pensacola (Escambia County) to Key West (Monroe County). You will be able to breathe a lot easier! Contact ESC and get a reply promptly!