Environmental Engineering

Ken Carlson

Program Coordinator:
Ken Carlson
kcarlson@engr.colostate.edu
970-491-8336

Environmental Engineering has had its own identity since about 1900 as a branch of civil engineering. Initially called, Sanitary Engineering, it has been practiced by civil engineers since about 1850 when the public health movement became institutionalized. Sewerage and water supply were the main activities during this early period, largely as hydraulic design problems.

Water treatment became widespread about 1900, while wastewater treatment was slower to be instituted. Empiricism was the main approach in design of these facilities, but a scientific basis for design was established beginning in the 1950s. During this period, a master's degree became accepted as a desired credential for entry into the field. During the 1960s the water supply and wastewater field became more broadly identified with general environmental issues, while retaining its identity with public health. Environmental Engineering now encompasses three key ideas: (1) protection of people from hazards caused by poor air or water quality, noise, and radiation; (2) proper disposal of wastes; and (3) security from the damaging effects of all types of human activities.

Now, the common themes of Environmental Engineering are to understand human and natural environments and how they function, and to understand how they can be damaged and how hazards arise from environmental contamination. The types of subjects that are addressed every day by Environmental Engineers are listed below:

  • Water treatment
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Contaminant transport
  • Environmental regulatory program management
  • Environmental impact
  • Environmental statistics and risk analysis
  • Climate variability on the environment
  • Groundwater remediation
  • Hazardous waste treatment
  • Industrial ecology
  • Non-point source pollution
  • Protecting watersheds
  • Safe drinking water infrastructure
  • Stream habitat and fisheries
  • Sustainable development
  • TMDL assessments
  • Waste containment
  • Water quality monitoring