Finding the Forest

Finding the Forest

Finding the Forest In my career, it’s sometimes difficult to “see the forest for the trees.” As an Engineering Technician, I am typically in front of my computer, configuring the details of a plan set that a contractor will be able to read, use and, eventually, build and make a reality. I am continuously focused on the minute details of the coordinates of “proposed” versus “existing” infrastructure, ensuring that the elevations of specific items are correct, and that we have specific notes, detailed diagrams and the area data covered correctly. Through all of these details, it is easy to forget that every project I touch improves communities, lives and the wellbeing of individuals everywhere. I had the good fortune to be reminded of this recently. I’m part of a small team currently working on a project with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority to design and coordinate the rehabilitation of 20 bus stops throughout the greater Kansas City area. The bulk of the design has been balanced between Mike Shirk as the Project Manager and Engineer and me as Engineering Technician, with the assistance of Brooks Taylor, another Engineering Technician, and our highly-skilled GIS Team. Mike has been wonderful in empowering me to take a lead in the design and helped me through the process. At first, I struggled with this project and its simplicity. I found myself wanting and needing my coordinates and elevations, my multitudes of details, and struggling to design what I thought was just a simple concrete pad. It was during a field check with Mike that the importance of this project set in. We...
Innovative Solutions to Old Problems

Innovative Solutions to Old Problems

Stormwater runoff has been a societal problem for thousands of years, dating all the way back to the Bronze Age when ancient Greeks started to develop solutions to help offset the increase in impervious surfaces. Although civilization has made many advances since then, the concepts of stormwater runoff collection and conveyance have remained the mostly same – capture the flow and take it elsewhere. What once was thought of as a basic solution has now become problematic, as the amount of impervious surface has dramatically increased with the growth of our communities. This has caused our water quality to diminish over time while putting a huge strain on our local stormwater systems. One of the unique opportunities I have had at TREKK has been addressing this issue using non-traditional stormwater systems that are slowly being implemented in cities across the United States. Instead of capturing flow and taking it away as quickly as possible, green infrastructure (GI) takes a different approach – capture and infiltrate the stormwater runoff to improve water quality and pipe capacity and increase aesthetic appeal. Green infrastructure includes a variety of drainage solutions, such as pavers, rain gardens, infiltration basins, and stormwater street trees. The concept behind GI is to collect pollutants, chemicals, and other contaminants before they enter the stormwater system, thus improving the water quality. This is achieved by capturing the stormwater runoff and storing it until can infiltrate into the ground. The stormwater runoff collected by GI reduces the amount entering the stormwater system, therefore reducing capacity issues to existing stormwater systems. Perhaps one of the underrated aspects of green infrastructure is...
IMPROVING LIVES.

IMPROVING LIVES.

When you hear a phrase like Improving Lives, what is the first thing that comes to mind? It might be lending a hand to a neighbor, helping out a friend in need, or treating people that you meet every day a little better. Here at TREKK Design Group, it means making the world better for everyone who is impacted by our project work. The idea that inspecting one manhole, smoke testing one sewer segment, cleaning and televising one sewer line, or conducting a survey for a new street design can Improve Lives can be difficult for some to wrap their head around. To me, this means that we are making the waterways of America cleaner and the streets we drive on safer. The basic daily functions of getting from point A to B safely in your vehicle, turning on the water faucet and getting clean water, or flushing your toilet and removing waste from your house are all things that people take for granted. These are also some key items that separate the United States from other countries that would love to have paved roads, clean water, and sanitation. Each day that any TREKK employee comes to work, they have the unique opportunity to improve the world, serve communities, and live out our purpose of Improving Lives. In the Wastewater Department, we have the ability to stop sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) and combined sewer overflows (CSOs). An SSO is any un-permitted overflow of untreated sewage that discharges before it reaches the treatment facility. A CSO is any unpermitted overflow in a combined sewer system that reaches a waterway before...
I’m here to help

I’m here to help

I began my career 37 years ago with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in the Poplar Bluff Regional Office. I stayed in Poplar Bluff seven months before transferring to the Springfield Regional Office, which is closer to my hometown of Osceola, Missouri. I started out primarily working in Solid Waste and a small amount of Industrial Wastewater. In Springfield, I primarily worked solid waste and a small fraction of Public Drinking Water, but soon moved into Water Pollution Control where I spent the bulk of my career. As the often feared and, most of the time, misunderstood Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MoDNR) inspector, I visited local facilities to document compliance through the inspection process with the Missouri Clean Water Law, Missouri Department of Natural Resources Regulations, and the facilities Missouri State Operating Permit (MSOP). I’d tell them, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help!” This line got me out of some heated issues and sometimes just brought a smile upon the face of the regulated community. While the inspection never felt like help to the facility, it was my intention to keep the facility out of trouble. If this was not done, it just created more work for everyone through potential enforcement actions. Since coming to work for TREKK, I have been able to better live out the “I’m here to help” portion of that old statement. I have assisted communities in obtaining grant funds to evaluate their collection systems, reviewed draft MSOPs for comments, and helped a client implement an Industrial Pretreatment Program. The family atmosphere at TREKK has extended not only to the...