WSB is honored to be ranked #178 on Engineering News Record’s (ENR) Top 500 Design Firms. This is the 11th consecutive year WSB has been ranked on the list, and we are proud to be included.
Each year, ENR completes an annual survey that ranks companies throughout the United States according to the revenue for design services performed. Covering topics such as business management, design, construction methods, technology, safety, law, legislation, environment and labor, ENR provides industry professionals with information to do their jobs more effectively.
Since WSB’s inception, we have dedicated ourselves to the value of strong relationships, collaboration and forward-thinking ideas. We aim to discover innovative solutions that look beyond the needs of today’s infrastructure and prepare us and our clients for the future.
WSB staff and their ambitious ideas and work ethic are what allows this company to continue to thrive. We would like to thank our staff for their diligent efforts and for advancing WSB and the industry. We look forward to continued partnerships with clients and building what’s next in infrastructure.
Nelson’s background in community enhancing, sustainable solutions will guide the firm’s innovative approach to water/wastewater solutions.
Engineering and consulting firm WSB announced today that Steve Nelson has been promoted to director of water/wastewater. In his new role, Nelson will lead and grow the firm’s water/wastewater team, support business development and lead the firm’s biological filtration and water/wastewater innovation efforts. Nelson joined WSB last year as a senior project manager and since then has worked to elevate the firm’s water/wastewater services throughout Minnesota.
“Steve has over 30 years of water and wastewater industry experience,” said Monica Heil, WSB vice president of municipal services. “His deep understanding for clients’ operational needs is unmatched and his ability to apply his subject matter expertise with our staff will allow us to continue to deliver innovative water and wastewater solutions across all our markets.”
Throughout his tenure, Nelson has led several successful water and wastewater projects and has made several industry contributions. He has led the development of water treatment plant design and renovations, water treatment plant process optimizations, filter maintenance evaluations and biological treatment. He played a leadership role in the Approval of Biological Treatment in Minnesota and helped the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) develop its protocol for Biological Pilot Testing.
Regarding PFAS contamination, Nelson served as the primary contributing author of the report for the Minnesota Attorney General, for several east metro communities and continues to help communities with PFAS related planning and removal. Nelson served two multi-year terms as the chair for the Minnesota AWWA Research Committee, and currently serves on the AWWA Water Utility Council (WUC).
“WSB is providing industry leadership in customer focused environmentally friendly solutions like softening, biological filtration, and PFAS removal. Such solutions are imperative to protecting our natural resources and supporting sustainable communities,” said Nelson. “The engineering behind water/wastewater will only become more valuable as our communities’ face water related demands. I’m looking forward to taking on a new leadership role at WSB and believe in the firm’s commitment to building what’s next in infrastructure. It’s this kind of approach that will better arm our communities for the future.”
WSB’s water/wastewater services include wastewater treatment facility design, expansion and rehabilitation, water studies, system modeling and analysis and more. More information about WSB’s water and wastewater services can be found here.
The fast-growing design and consulting firm first entered the Houston market in 2019 and will open two additional offices in Texas this year.
WSB, a design and consulting firm, announced today that they have expanded their Houston office to the Energy Tower professional office building on 11700 Katy Freeway. The over 6,000-square-foot expansion represents a continuation of WSB’s geographic growth strategy.
“The Houston community and surrounding areas are investing heavily in their infrastructure and WSB’s offerings are well suited to support these needs,” said David Balmos, WSB’s vice president of strategy. “We’ve seen an increasing interest from our clients and partners in our digital delivery services. Our approach to project delivery is disrupting the industry and the Houston area needs a more innovative approach to infrastructure development. It makes sense to expand our operations and presence in the area.”
WSB, which provides engineering, community planning, environmental and construction services to the public and private sector, established a Houston presence in 2019 through the acquisition of Nathelyne A. Kennedy and Associates (NAK). Since then, the firm has invested heavily in strategic hires and has grown their local expertise substantially.
The counties surrounding the Houston area recently approved more than $3 billion for projects related to infrastructure improvement. As a firm that focuses on providing advanced project delivery for the government, commercial and energy markets, WSB will bring a forwarding-thinking mindset to their client’s project approaches.
“Our expertise, combined with our innovation is what differentiates us from others in the market,” said Jay Kennedy, WSB’s vice president of Texas operations. “We look forward to continuing our strategic expansion plans across the state of Texas through our commitment to building what’s next in infrastructure.”
WSB first entered Texas in 2017 with the establishment of their Austin office. Since then, the firm has established a presence in Dallas and will also open offices in Round Rock and Tyler later this year. The Houston office will support full-service infrastructure needs throughout the state.
By Amy Fredregill, Sr. Director of Sustainability, WSB
In honor of Earth Month 2023, Amy Fredregill, Sr. Director of Sustainability, discusses the way we are advancing sustainable outcomes through our work. At WSB, we believe there can be a sustainability lens to every project. Earth Day is the perfect time to reflect on the impact we can make with our client projects and operations to create a more prosperous, resilient future.
What does a sustainable community look like, and how does our work support it?
Sustainability is like a three-legged stool, it balances economic, social and environmental issues. Overall, a sustainable approach meets the needs of the current generation as well as future generations— encompassing both short- and long-term goals. Sustainability is unique to each project, based on the business case and objectives of the effort, which is what makes this work so innovative.
Can you describe what sustainability in infrastructure development means and its importance?
Sustainability can be seen in infrastructure in electric and water utilities, roads, trails and electric vehicle charging infrastructure, to name a few. We are increasingly being asked to look at our infrastructure developments in new ways and think creatively about tools and methods that generate even more comprehensive benefits– from economic development to public health. Often, we can find solutions that mimic the resiliency of nature such as alternatives to traditional stormwater treatments, municipal water reuse, filtration ponds, alternative pavement products and pollinator-friendly landscaping. In doing so, we are seeing more long-term benefits, lower lifecycle costs and more amenities across a broader range of stakeholders.
In what ways does WSB practice sustainability?
Our projects range from creating strategic five-year plans, 12-18-month workplans and day-to-day operations and policies. These efforts are driven by evolving customer and stakeholder demand for services ranging from electric vehicle charging stations to public health, emissions reductions and resiliency. For any kind of project, we can draw strength from a range of WSB divisions including construction, renewables, transportation planning, landscape architecture, public engagement and more— ensuring that we are carefully crafting the best option for each project.
In the last few years, we recently launched an internal employee-based Corporate Sustainability Team. Our goal is to advance operational efficiencies, make proactive plans, be good community partners, and support a broader swath of societal goals through procurement and emissions reductions. One result of our efforts was the development of a solar array on our Burnsville office building, garnering interest from community partners as renewable energy costs continue to decline. Additionally, our St. Paul office recently received a grant for organic composting so we can learn about commercial opportunities to reduce waste and reuse materials. Learnings from our operational efforts can be shared with our communities and business partners.
Are there any projects that you find difficult to apply sustainability? How does WSB overcome those issues?
We are often asked in our client projects to manage risk, measure impacts and benefits of projects creatively by using expanded methods to build on traditional ROI concepts think long-term about lifecycle costs and benefits to society and business, such as workforce development. Commercial and government leaders are sharing ideas in this emerging impact measurement space, with results that can turn former waste streams into revenue and reduce risk across the supply chain, improve public health outcomes and help communities thrive.
What excites you about the possibilities of sustainability in the future?
Sustainability is an exciting field because it is continuously evolving. We enjoy exploring what approaches will best meet the needs of projects and clients — it is not one-size-fits-all. Additionally, there is an increasing amount of state and federal funding available for projects. Positive health and social benefits are goals of many funding programs, and by partnering with our clients to take advantage of funding opportunities, these approaches are more accessible. WSB stays apprised of this ever-changing horizon of program opportunities by sorting through eligibility of funding and putting together winning projects in our communities and business partners.
Amy has nearly 25 years of experience across many industries, particularly energy and agriculture, in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. This experience has provided Amy with a broad background that enables her to meet community and business needs based on the business case for sustainability. By working across intersecting systems to simultaneously advance environmental, economic and social goals, she is able to uncover creative solutions.
WSB is proud to announce our newly promoted staff. Annually, we recognize the staff who display leadership, determination and expertise in their field. Each staff member consistently brings different elements of our values, results and leadership into their work. We are dependent on the continual development of new talent and leadership to build our success and support our growth. We are fortunate to have such strong and committed leaders at WSB that have chosen to invest their careers with us. Each of the staff members below have made a commitment to the company, clients and each other to lead by example and help us improve each day. Congratulations!
Bill Alms, Water Resource Project Manager
Dan Rogers, Director of Transportation Design – Texas
Eric Eckman, Municipal Project Manager
Alyson Fauske, Municipal Sr. Project Manager
Dallas Westerlund, Survey Project Manager
Dustin Tipp, Municipal Project Manager
Janele Taveggia, Land Development Sr. Project Manager
Jayson Honer, Oil & Gas Director of Field Services
Justin Bossert, Scheduling and Project Controls Manager
Nate Wingerter, Project Engineer
Alex Johnson, GIS Solution Architect
Behnaz Beladi, Director of Renewable Energy
Brandon Reese, Survey Technician
Chris Kester, Estimating Manager
Evan Schnitker, Design Project Engineer
Frank Schill, Pipeline Inspector
Gus Perron, Traffic Project Manager
Jesse Sievers, Talent Acquisition Manager
Jolene Rieck, Director of Landscape Architecture – Western Region
Jon Christensen, Water/Wastewater Professional Engineer
Jordan Wein, Environmental Scientist
Katie Koscielak, Municipal Project Manager
Kendra Fallon, Water Resources Project Engineer
Kevin Kruger, Municipal Project Manager
Mark Osborn, Geotechnical Professional Engineer
Matt Schulz, Water Resources Project Engineer
Michael Nelson-Ostrowski, Design Project Engineer
Ray Theiler, Water/Wastewater Professional Engineer
April 17, 2023 By Alyson Fauske, Sr Project Manager, WSB
Like most industries, cities are facing numerous workforce challenges from city staffing to adjusting to more remote and hybrid roles. On top of that, many communities are also thinking big picture about how they can effectively build the smart cities of tomorrow.
As communities think about city staffing, here are some ways that they can rethink about how city staff play a role in building smarter, more efficient cities and how they can build engage, and connect workforces.
City Staff Are More Connected Than Ever Before
We may be passed the pandemic, but there were numerous lessons learned about how technology can better connect staff, and for cities, that is critical for cross-collaboration and problem-solving. Email, Zoom, staff management tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams – they all help with staff augmentation and close gaps on how staff are connecting.
Whether your staff is onsite, hybrid, remote, or all of the above, getting smart about technology gives city staff the tools to remain better connected and address critical community needs more efficiently, effectively, and collaboratively.
Understand How GIS Data Can Improve Efficiency
The need for on-the-ground repair and infrastructure services will never be fully replaced in cities. However, with tools like Google Earth Street view and GIS mapping, some investigative work to identify problems can be done off site. It can be a simple, yet effective tool, and it’s also one that is easily accessible to all cities.
Smart City Tools Foster Better Communication with Residents
At the end of the day, city staff are there to improve communities and the lives of residents. Smart tools and technology are significantly cutting redundancies in city staff time, improving connectivity, and making city government more accessible for everyone.
For example, phone apps and online tools allow residents to report city issues like potholes. Instead of creating multiple pieces of paperwork and follow up for each resident that reports on the same pothole, tech tools can measure the number of complaints and combine a single issue into one report.
Tools like these also ensure that residents can connect with city government at their convenience. They don’t need someone at a desk from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to submit paperwork, share resident input, or access important city information. Technology makes city government more accessible.
In short, as communities think about building smart cities and finding and maintaining a top-quality workforce, tools and technology are critical for fostering connections between city staff and between residents and local government. WSB has the staff and expertise to help support your community as you lead it into the future.
With over 20 years of engineering experience in the municipal industry, Alyson Fauske has built her career providing municipal engineering services throughout the Twin Cities. Her portfolio of work includes street and utility reconstruction, technical analysis and field observations, direct project planning and management, and comprehensive and capital planning services.
April 17, 2023 By Jon Christensen, Professional Engineer and Steve Nelson, Sr Project Manager, WSB
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed establishing legally enforceable levels for six man-made Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) that are known to exist in the environment and drinking water. The EPA’s proposed levels are below most states current guidance levels and are near the detectable limits of the particular PFAS compounds. This move represents a significant step forward in safeguarding the health of our communities. To achieve this goal, the EPA is leveraging the most recent scientific data and building on existing state efforts to limit PFAS, aiming to provide a nationwide, health-protective standard for these specific substances in drinking water.
PFAS compounds are being detected in more and more water sources, both in surface water and groundwater systems. It is essential that cities stay up to date on this rapidly evolving science, so they can be prepared to adapt to new regulations and rules as they are decided.
Here’s what you should do now to be prepared and the potential solutions if these PFAS compounds are identified in your city’s drinking water.
Testing for PFAS
Many cities are not currently monitoring or testing for PFAS compounds in their water systems. The proposed EPA PFAS regulations lower the acceptable amount of PFAS compounds, which will likely affect a greater number of cities. That’s why cities should begin testing now. Keep in mind that the Minnesota Department of Health has a web tool that cities can use to determine whether testing has already been done in their area. If no testing has been done, cities should consider testing and eventually will be required to conduct testing, and if regulated PFAS elements are detected above allowable levels, then cities must begin evaluating and implementing solutions.
Solutions for PFAS Contamination
There are several options for addressing identified PFAS that include obtaining water from a source or system that does not contain PFAS, blending water from multiple sources to dilute the amount of PFAS entering the distribution system, or treating the raw water that contains PFAS. The cost of addressing PFAS in the water supply will vary depending on the amount of PFAS detected and the solution type that is most feasible for that community.
How WSB Can Help
Thinking through the next steps now, while communities await the EPA’s final ruling on PFAS regulations, can set a community up for success and better prepare cities for evolving water quality regulations.
Jon’s experience in water and wastewater engineering include water supply systems, sanitary sewer collection systems and water and wastewater treatment facilities. Prior to joining WSB, Jon spent two years with an NGO in Honduras designing and constructing electricity-free sustainable drinking water treatment plants.
Steve’s experience includes treatment plant designs and renovations (for both groundwater and surface water plants). He has experience with treatment process technologies such as reverse osmosis, ozone, activated alumina, biological filtration, lime softening, radium reduction, plate settlers, plate and frame presses and solids handling. He has worked with the AWWA Office of Government Affairs and the AWWA Research Foundation on water studies.
April 17, 2023 By Jerry Schimmel, Project Engineer, WSB
In 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new rules that require the removal of service pipes in cities nationwide that contain lead and copper. Lead pipes, primarily used in infrastructure through the first half of the twentieth century, can have negative long-term impacts on human health and water quality. This new rule will help communities support sustainable water infrastructure that provides safe drinking water to all Americans.
State regulatory agencies are tasked with enforcing and administering funds for this initiative. In Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is the managing agency. This is a significant undertaking for many cities, and it is important that municipalities understand how to navigate and comply with the new rules.
What do cities need to know to ensure compliance with this new regulation? Here are three things to consider.
There will be funding to help cities comply with these new mandates. While updating water infrastructure and removing lead pipes can be an expensive task, cities have the opportunity to access grants to help fund this process. The federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in 2022 set aside dollars for cities to help support service line updates. Grant funding can also be flexible to meet community needs, from paying for community awareness campaigns to self-testing lines to taking lead pipe inventory and more.
Cities must inventory their pipelines by 2024. By October 2024, all cities must complete the inventory of all service pipes in their community. This means cities need to act now. Meeting this deadline requires a multi-pronged approach that includes mapping out all the service lines in a city, determining which contains lead, and finally creating and implementing a plan for the removal and replacement of the lead pipes.
Data is key, and that means educating and working with residents. Mapping pipeline data is a big undertaking for many communities, especially as many cities will need to go beyond historical records to map out their service lines, that’s why resident participation is important. Communities should leverage GIS data to help build and map which service lines are at risk of having lead components. Online mapping tools and tips can help residents identify lead service lines and report back to the city. The more user-friendly testing and data collection is, the more accessible it is for the public.
What’s more, because water quality issues more commonly impact disadvantaged and low-income communities, 49% of program funds are directed toward traditionally underserved communities to improve drinking water quality. Educating and engaging with these neighborhoods and residents will be important for cities, and the focus should be on raising awareness and helping with testing.
WSB offers all the services for cities to navigate and implement the new regulations, including grant proposals, inventory, mapping, and identification. We assist cities throughout every step of the process, including:
Establishing a database that meets the MDH reporting requirements
Creating and implementing a public engagement plan to educate and build community awareness
Gathering and tracking data by leveraging Esri Lead Service Line Inventory software
Planning and implementing a lead pipe replacement program
Building a comprehensive report documenting the lead resolution to MDH by October 2024
Identifying and applying for grants to support community compliance and pipeline updates
Service pipelines supply drinking water to homes, businesses, and schools. Safe drinking water and sustainable infrastructure are critical to healthy communities, and while this new rule will be a significant undertaking, it also provides meaningful opportunities for communities to make much-needed improvements.
Jerry is a project engineer and manager delivering complex projects in municipalities, small and large. He has a breadth of knowledge and understanding of full reconstruction projects, and can identify and solve risks and problems throughout the design process, delivering projects on time and on budget.
April 17, 2023 By Jordan Gedrose, Landscape Architect, WSB
As Spring emerges, trail use will be in full swing with joggers, walkers, and bikers. When looking at the types of recreational trails, such as gravel, concrete, and bituminous, bituminous is the most common type of trail. Bituminous, also known as asphalt trails, are used in high pedestrian trafficked areas and are often the more cost-effective trail option.
Trail maintenance is essential for trail user safety, accessibility, and trail preservation. It means creating equitable communities where all residents have access to similar-quality trails and outdoor amenities.
Here are four trail maintenance tips for communities, especially after a winter of record snowfall.
Seasonal Trail Inspections
Municipalities must inspect trails during each seasonal transition. Each part of the year brings new weather that can impact the usability of a trail, and as temperatures warm up and snow melts, cities need to inspect trails to be ready for increased traffic. Identifying pavement cracking, chipping, and heaving are part of the visual inspection. Trails receiving routine pavement inspections and maintenance will save communities money in the long run instead of allowing trail issues to worsen over time resulting in more costly repairs in the future.
Repair and Preventative Measures
There are many different reasons for trail pavement failure. These include environmental factors, such as sunlight, oxidation, water, the freeze/thaw cycle, aging, and vegetation. Traffic usage from maintenance equipment, utility vehicles, and pedestrians also contributes to trail failure.
There are several different options for preventative and minor rehabilitation practices that significantly increase the overall lifespan of a trail. Generally, applying a trail sealant every four years after the trail is constructed is ideal.
A build-up of debris on the pavement occurs during the winter when usage is low—blowing and sweeping trails in the spring is essential to clear them. It can involve removing fallen trees and branches or trimming overgrown vegetation. Snowmelt can bring additional leaf litter and soil onto the trail, so be sure to identify any areas near the trail that are eroding to protect the structural integrity of the trail as well as limit the amount of debris getting on the trail. Check catch basins to ensure no debris obstructs the inlets to ensure water is not getting trapped on the trail.
Update Trail Markings & Infrastructure
For the same reasons pavement may need repairs based on environmental, usage, and design, pavement markings such as walk and bike lanes, direction symbols, or trail instructions should be upkept and repainted as needed. This includes signage as well. This is critical for user safety.
In addition to trail maintenance procedures, infrastructure such as pet relief stations, bike repair tools and pumps, benches, garbage receptacles and lighting should be operational and ready to use.
How WSB Can Help?
WSB can help create a customized trail maintenance plan that meets your community’s needs. We also design, construct trails, and help communities implement preventative maintenance to ensure residents get the most out of local trails.
Jordan is a landscape architect who has worked with many communities to deliver visionary and achievable park master plan projects. He brings his conceptual, graphical, and technical expertise to projects including streetscapes, park and trail planning, playground design, and athletic complexes. Jordan is committed to collaborating with the client and providing thoughtful design input to create unique outdoor spaces and experiences.