Starting a sustainable cycle

A virtual webinar on launching sustainable initiatives.

Organizations of all types and sizes are taking a more proactive stance on sustainability issues to meet evolving customer needs and making sustainably minded changes that can increase their revenue, reduce costs and build new markets and service. But for many one question complicates their efforts; how to get started?

In partnership with Finance & Commerce, WSB recently hosted a virtual webinar that provided examples of sustainable processes and how they came to be.

Panelists included:

  • Bryan Baer, City Administrator, City of Hugo, MN
  • Steve Compton, CFO and EVP at Sevana Bioenergy
  • Bruce Loney, Board Manager, Prior Lake-Spring Lake Watershed District
  • Moderated by: Amy Fredregill, Director of Sustainability, WSB

During the webinar, our panelists led us through their proactive approaches to sustainability initiatives including:

  • How the city of Hugo is using less water and reducing costs despite its growing population
  • How a dairy farm is increasing their revenue by making and selling biogas
  • How mitigating invasive carp is leading to improved water quality in a Watershed District

Watch the webinar

Download the presentation

For more information on sustainability, contact Amy Fredregill.


How pavement management is like owning and caring for a backyard deck

A Q&A with Bart Fischer, Senior Public Administrator and Mike Rief, Sr. Vice President of Construction Services.

With summer fast approaching it’s comforting to know that we’re free of icy road conditions for the next several months.  As I drove over a recent pothole and began noticing the sand and salt being swept off the roads in my community, I wanted to learn more about pavement management and its impact on city budgets and plans. I sat down with Mike Rief, WSB’s Sr. Vice President of Construction Services to better understand the importance of pavement management in our communities.

BF: Why is pavement management so important for communities?

MR: It all comes down to planning and budgeting. The predictability that a pavement management plan brings a community is the biggest benefit. If a pavement management plan exists, minor improvements and maintenance can potentially double the lifespan of a roadway.  Without any maintenance or improvements, a typical road will last about 20 years. Instead, with a pavement management plan, a community could extend that lifespan to about 40 years, maximizing their investment.

BF: That’s interesting. What exactly does a pavement management plan entail?

MR: I’ve found that comparing pavement to caring for a backyard deck has a lot of impact. We start by building a deck – similar to how we start building a road.  We form the foundation, wood for the deck and pavement for the road.

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BF: We love our outdoor spaces in Minnesota! This is a great comparison. So, there is a preventative maintenance component after the foundation is formed?

MR: Exactly. Once the foundation is formed, we perform preventative maintenance.  In the case of a deck, we stain and seal it. For pavement, we seal the pavement cracks and perform surface treatments.


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BF: What happens if a board rots out? How would you compare that in the pavement scenario?

MR: I like to call this the preservation stage of the pavement management plan. The best comparison to replacing a rotting board would be performing a mill and overlay on the road. A mill and overlay is a type of street maintenance that requires the removal of the top 2” of a street and the addition of a new layer of bituminous pavement in it’s place.


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BF: When does it make sense to do a full road reconstruction?

MR: Yes, the reconstruction phase of the process is inevitable, but can be extended through preventative maintenance and preservation. Eventually, we’ve repaired the deck so many times and it makes sense to stop investing more dollars into it.  At some point, reconstruction is necessary, but through pavement management, it’s decades out and has been budgeted for.

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BF: It really makes a lot of sense when you explain it in that way. Any other benefits of pavement management?

MR: I mentioned it above, but predictability is invaluable. There are huge capital investment benefits to implementing a pavement management plan.  It helps with budgeting, planning for development and growth and also can increase property values. I recommend any community, regardless of size, consider pavement management in the future.

Bart Fischer has over two decades of experience in public administration. Throughout his tenure, he’s worked in five Minnesota communities as the city or assistant city administrator.  Bart joined our firm in 2019 as a senior public administrator and focuses on lending his public service expertise to our clients.

[email protected] | 651.485.1839

Mike Rief leads WSB’s Construction Services team. He has nearly 30 years of experience in civil engineering, with an emphasis on pavement and materials, pavement management, quality management, project management, design, risk assessment, project controls, contract administration, construction, and preventative maintenance. Throughout his tenure, he’s managed several complex, high-profile projects across Minnesota.

[email protected] | 612.518.8329

Partnering with the city of Hugo to create a sustainable water reuse strategy

By Mark Erichson, Pete Willenbring, Kendra Fallon and Ray Theiler, WSB

About 10 years ago, the City of Hugo was looking for feasible options to reduce the amount of potable water used to irrigate green spaces within the city. At that time, approximately one-half of the water the city pumped from its municipal wells was used for irrigation. The city was also facing the need to add wells, water towers, and treatment to provide enough capacity for this use. Studies indicated the cost for these facilities was going to increase water bills significantly, and the MDNR was reluctant to grant additional groundwater appropriation permits in the area.       

To address this issue, the city and WSB staff developed a list of potential options, and the city commissioned WSB to focus on completing  a series of studies to determine if it would be technically, financially, and politically feasible to collect, store, and re-use stormwater runoff instead of city well water for this purpose. Furthermore, the study was focused on potentially utilizing existing stormwater retention and treatment ponds that are currently in-place throughout the city for this purpose. As part of these studies, initial evaluations focused on the ability to implement this type of program for the city’s largest irrigation users. These evaluations found that providing stormwater for re-use to these users was indeed feasible, and furthermore, when properly set-up, residents were enthusiastic supporters of the practice and program. Following these initial successes, our team began to coordinate with city staff and local partners to fund, design, and construct other reuse systems. 

Reducing, reusing, and replenishing water resources is now a city prioritized conservation practice. All new development projects are required to collect and treat stormwater, and install stormwater reuse systems for irrigation when feasible and practical. This reuse also significantly reduces the volume of stormwater and the pollutant load that is discharged downstream of the sites, further benefiting downstream natural resources such as wetlands, lakes, and rivers. 

We continue to offer guidance about sites that may be a good fit for reuse systems. When these are identified, we work with city staff and the local watershed district to identify and secure grant funding for new projects and encourage developers to implement water conservation practices such as stormwater reuse. Several private developments have been able to take advantage of this partnership, including the Oneka Ridge Golf Course and the Water’s Edge Homeowners Association, a 1,000 unit housing development.  Grants have funded between 25 and 85 percent of reuse projects. Where projects utilize water reuse which exceeds what is required for stormwater management, volume reduction credits are banked. These credits are tracked by the City and can be purchased by developers for future projects where site constraints make onsite stormwater treatment difficult. 

Shifting the public perception of water reuse is important to a project’s success. We partnered with city officials to facilitate neighborhood meetings to educate residents on water reuse and its benefits. Public living in proximity to these reuse projects will benefit greatly by improved water quality in adjacent downstream water bodies, while also reducing reliance on our stressed groundwater resources.

Stormwater reuse offers a number of financial and environmental benefits to the city of Hugo and its residents. By identifying and utilizing alternate water resources to reduce potable water demands, the city is able to reduce the stress placed on its water system, possibly postponing or eliminating the need for additional water infrastructure improvements such as wells, towers and size of trunk watermain facilities.

As groundwater demands increase, Hugo and WSB will continue to work together to change local water use practices and attitudes towards water reuse and water conservation. 

Please contact us to learn more about how to incorporate more water reuse strategies in your community.

WSB Announces 2021 Staff Promotions

WSB is excited to announce our newly promoted staff. As a growing company, we are dependent on the continual development of new talent and leadership. We are fortunate to have such strong and committed leaders that have chosen to invest their careers with us. We are proud to promote these staff to their new roles and are confident that their best years are ahead of them.


Justin Hansen – Director of GIS Services

Senior Associate

Ben Barker – Right of Way Specialist
Bill Alms – Project Manager
Bob Haseman – Chief Engineer of Houston
Bob Slipka – Sr Landscape Architect
Carl Osberg – Director of Structures
Dan Rogers – Director of Transportation Design – Texas
Diane Hankee – Project Manager
Eric Eckman – Project Manager
Karne Newburn – Corporate Counsel
Lisa Beckman – Sr Right of Way Specialist
Liz Weber – Director of Financial Planning
Mike Molitor – Sr Project Manager
Shibani Bisson – Sr Project Manager


Adam Jessen – Project Manager
Brandon Nguyen – Sr Project Engineer
Dallas Westerlund – Project Manager
Dan Pfeiffer – Director of Public Engagement
Dustin Tipp – Project Engineer
Eric Breitsprecher – Project Manager
Heather Jones – Project Analyst
Jason Kreger – Civil 3D CAD Manager
Jayson Honer – Project Manager
Jeremy Honga – Professional Land Surveyor
Laura Rescorla – Project Engineer
Marc Drouin – Project Engineer
Nate Osterberg – Pipeline Inspector
Nick Preisler – Project Engineer
Trevett Cullers – Executive Assistant
Val Brennan – Marketing Communications Manager

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WSB hires Brad Oswald to lead survey growth in Colorado and Texas

Oswald joins WSB with over 20 years of large-scale boundary experience

Engineering and consulting firm WSB announced today that Brad Oswald has been hired as the director of survey operations in Denver, Colo. This is a new role that will focus on growing WSB’s surveying offerings in the Colorado and Texas markets.

In this role, Brad will diversify WSB’s fast-growing survey service. Oswald brings over 20 years of experience of leading large-scale boundary surveys throughout the U.S.

“The bread and butter of WSB’s survey expertise has largely been construction related,” said Kyle Klasen, director of survey at WSB. “Brad’s large-scale boundary expertise will complement the services we already provide and will give us boots on the ground in Colorado.”

Most recently, Oswald was with SAM Companies, a geospatial solutions and construction services company where he acted as the Denver operations manager. His expertise includes business development, field management and project delivery. Oswald is a Licensed Professional Land Surveyor in 16 states.

“WSB’s survey services are well-known in the Midwest and I’m looking forward to delivering the same high-quality, data-driven survey projects for our clients in the Colorado and Texas markets,” said Oswald. “I’m thrilled to join a fast-growing team that is committed to innovation, best-practices and is not afraid of trying something new.”

WSB’s survey services include design, boundary, right-of-way, 3D laser scanning, asset management, construction and contractor staking and environmental compliance services for clients in the government, energy and commercial markets.