What Do the New PFAS Standards Mean for You

April 29, 2024
By Steve Nelson, Director of Water/Wastewater and Ryan Stempski, Sr Project Manager, WSB

This year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implemented new drinking water standards to limit exposure to the ‘forever chemicals’ Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The EPA’s new PFAS standards are four parts per trillion as the maximum contaminant level in drinking water. Communities whose water used to be compliant may no longer meet the EPA’s standards and now must comply with these new requirements within the next five years. By setting these new standards, the EPA started a compliance timer for communities across the United States, with much to be done including public notification, analyzing contaminants, grant applications, and designing and planning.

So how can communities prepare, plan and produce results? Here are some places to start.

Communication is Key

One of the first tasks for communities struggling with PFAS is preparing a proper communication plan. This includes coordinating with state agencies as well as relaying details to the public and those directly affected by the work that will need to be done. To ensure transparency, municipal water suppliers are required to notify the public within 30 days and cities are required to publish a consumer confidence report onto their websites by July. A well mapped out communications plan is imperative to informing the public, stakeholders and agencies about the issues, identifiable solutions and how to implement those solutions.

Finding Solutions Through Feasibility Studies

To best identify PFAS related issues and plan the necessary solutions, a city must implement a feasibility study. Through this study potential solutions to water contamination are identified and the suitability of these solutions are noted. For instance, is it possible for a city to develop a new source of water? This could mean looking for wells from different uncontaminated aquifers or reconnecting pipes to neighboring water systems. If it is determined that alternative solutions like these are not suitable for your community, treatment for the removal of PFAS may be the only solution.

The most widely used process for removing PFAS is granular activated carbon (GAC). GAC media is loaded into filtration vessels, when water is passed through the GAC filter bed where PFAS molecules attach to open adsorption sites in the granules. However, this GAC media requires expensive disposal and replacement every few years.

The other common treatment method uses ion exchange resins. Ion exchange resins are tiny beads that can capture PFAS molecules. This method can require more pre-treatment and disposal costs than GAC. Additional methods are being piloted and studied with the hope of making PFAS removal even more cost effective through processes that include on-site destruction of PFAS molecules – thereby avoiding the expensive disposal of granules and resins.

The Race for Funding

Just as cities must meet the standards in time, so too must they keep up with grant funding deadlines. A plan can be great but without the funding, it might not perform well. Applying for agency grants and monitoring funding legislation moving through state legislatures are necessary to both identify and secure funding to meet PFAS standards. A variety of funding opportunities can be utilized for administering studies, designing treatments and constructing projects. Five years may seem like a long time, but with the time spent seeking out and applying for funding on top of studies, designs and construction phases, cities need to start planning today.

How WSB Can Help

Communities now facing the impending deadline need to have an experienced team to help develop a communications plan, perform studies, apply for funding and provide design solutions. A great deal needs to be accomplished in only a few years. WSB’s team has decades of experience and knowledge on every aspect of PFAS removal. We can help execute solutions that improve water quality for the health and safety of the public and ensure cities can meet the EPA’s new standards.

Currently WSB is offering to provide cities with a PFAS Assessment and Response Strategy that includes a discovery interview with the water system operator, water system data review and analysis, and options for the city to consider as next steps. Contact us to learn more.

Steve designs treatment plants and renovations (for both groundwater and surface water plants) including 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.

[email protected] | 612.258.8152

Steve Nelson

Ryan has more than 18 years of experience working on engineering solutions related to PFAS. This includes coordinating with agencies, public communications, funding, planning and design of PFAS removal, and O&M of those solutions. He has worked with various municipalities to bring accurate and confident communication to the public on this legacy contamination.

[email protected] | 612.670.8071

Clean energy

Earth Month: WSB’s Commitment to Clean Energy Development

April 22, 2024

By Behnaz Beladi, Director of Renewable Energy, WSB

The month of April is dedicated to raising awareness about sustainability and protecting our environment. In line with this goal, WSB’s dedicated Renewables Team is actively involved in furthering this initiative by aiding in the development, design and construction of clean renewable energy projects. From initial surveying to permitting, design and construction services, WSB provides a comprehensive range of expertise and support for clean energy projects nationwide.

Empowering Renewable Expansion: WSB’s Comprehensive Service Offerings and Growth
With a growing interest in renewable energy and increased grant funding opportunities at the federal level, the WSB team expanded considerably to meet the needs of clients and communities. Over the last few years, the Renewables Team has grown from a few staff members to more than 45 staff helping implement diverse projects including wind, solar and Battery Storage, providing a wide range of services across project needs.

The range of services includes:

  1. Survey
  2. Environmental and Permitting
  3. Geotech (certain states)
  4. Civil Site Design
  5. Hydrology
  6. Right of Way (ROW)
  7. Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  8. Construction Support
  9. Visualization

Apart from Geotech, the range of services the renewables team provides doesn’t have geographic limitations. The WSB Renewable team can work with contractors to reduce installation costs by designing with construction in mind, automating construction processes by creating machine files for grading equipment, creating real-time grading as-builts and even troubleshooting grading equipment remotely to avoid unnecessary delays. These services have already contributed to the creation of renewable energy across the country that communities have come to rely on.

Powering Tomorrow: WSB’s Impact on Clean Energy Across the Nation

The clean energy projects that benefited from the services provided by WSB’s Renewables Team are already producing are going to produce considerable amounts of energy around the country. Over the last 2 years, our renewable team has designed over 5000 megawatts (MW) of renewable projects. For reference, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that the average residential electric utility customer in 2022 used about 10,791 kilowatt-hours per year. A 9-kilowatt renewable system generates approximately 10,791 kilowatt-hours. Projects including solar, wind and battery storage are powering communities across the U.S., with more projects being designed and constructed as time goes on.

Energizing Communities: WSB’s Leadership in Renewable Energy Initiatives

WSB’s services thus far have empowered numerous renewable projects, enabling communities across the country to access the clean energy they seek. From large-scale wind, solar and battery storage projects to smaller community solar initiatives, WSB’s seasoned Renewables Team consistently delivers results. As renewables represent the future of our energy grid, WSB remains committed to leading the way in adopting cutting-edge technology and tools for a sustainable energy future. With five thousand Megawatts already achieved, this is just the outset of our journey.

Behnaz is a lead solar engineer and manager specializing in utility scale, commercial and residential solar design. She is mindful of and knowledgeable about all local state and federal environmental rules and regulations and adept at explaining complex technical engineering concepts clearly and accessibly to wide variety of professional and nonprofessional audiences.

[email protected] | 612.468.8423

Capture Federal Funds to Build Resilient Stormwater Infrastructure

By Jake Newhall, Director of Water Resources, WSB
April 15, 2024

Stormwater infrastructure around the country is being put to the test by age and deterioration as well as climate change events and abnormal weather like droughts and unusually intense rainfalls. With that in mind, communities need to follow five steps in order to create resilient stormwater infrastructure. The goal is to limit stormwater-related risks and to properly fund critical projects. Those steps can be simplified down into Identification, Project Development, Planning, Funding and Building.

Identifying Infrastructure Needs

Knowing is half the battle. Before a project can begin, a community must understand what their needs are with a specific focus on aging and failing infrastructure. If stormwater infrastructure fails, roads, nearby buildings and residences could be put at risk.

Developing a Resilient and Sustainable Project

The project development step is where you answer a multitude of questions on the project’s objectives and scope. First and foremost, is the project feasible from a financial or construction standpoint? What resilient solutions are being included to properly develop the updated infrastructure so it will last? In addition, what are the benefits of the project? Identifying the problem and answering these questions will allow for a much easier transition into the next steps like applying for grant funding. For example, regular maintenance of existing infrastructure will find little opportunity for grant funding. Developing your project with the set goal of improving infrastructure to become more sustainable and resilient will drastically improve your chances.

An example of improved resiliency is developing your infrastructure to respond to changing climates and abnormal weather conditions. Is your infrastructure project designed to handle prolonged droughts or intense rainfalls or intense snow melts?

From a stormwater perspective, a more sustainable project can include aspects like increased storage and volume control and a more efficient outlet system. Being able to retain the stormwater on site and slowly release it to downstream systems will not only better protect your community and those downstream, but can also lead to improved water quality.

Planning For Success

The third step can be simplified into making a plan. Collecting every aspect of the project into a planning document will set up a community for success. With no absolute assurances that grant funding will be accessible, the planning step gives communities the confidence that their project and the intent to update and revitalize their stormwater infrastructure, is not just a hope, but a tangible path to success.

Obtaining Grant Funding

The next step is grant funding. Recent policies from the federal and state government have created ample opportunity for bringing greater resiliency to stormwater infrastructure. For example, the Infrastructure and Jobs Act included over $50 billion in available federal funds towards drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. Similarly on the state level, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recently announced $35 million in grant funding for stormwater resiliency projects. There are a variety of types of grants that all focus on different goals.

Building Resilient Stormwater Infrastructure

Finally, once all the previous steps have been completed to satisfaction, the final phase of developing resilient stormwater infrastructure is building. During this step, the project is fully designed and construction begins. As the final step is completed, your community will have transformed aging infrastructure into a success story that protects your community, those around it, and creates a more sustainable environment.

How WSB Can Help

The vast knowledge and experience at WSB will help clients find solutions to stormwater management. If a community has identified a need, WSB can build off even a tiny idea to help make it fit from project development all the way through construction. With WSB’s talented team of experts, a community will have a trusted partner who can help ensure a project is funded and built efficiently and effectively.

Jake has more than 15 years of engineering experience designing and managing many types of water resources projects, including modeling, planning, design, maintenance programs, and construction. Jake has worked with various municipalities, counties and state agencies to solve challenging water quality and water quantity problems.

[email protected] | 763.231.4861

Jake Newhall

4 Ways To Improve Road Safety and Reduce Speeding

By Sean Delmore, Director of Traffic, WSB
April 15, 2024

Excessive speed is a problem faced on roads all over the country whether rural or urban. No matter what a speed limit sign may say there will be drivers who will exceed the limit if they feel they can. The best way to reduce speeding is to design our roadways to encourage the behavior we want. When looking at designing a new road or updating an existing one, there are four ways to limit speeding: horizontal deflection, vertical reflection, width reduction, and feedback signs.

Designing Horizontal Deflections To Organically Lower Speeds

If your roadways look and feel like a long runway drivers will naturally feel comfortable with higher speeds. To circumvent this, including lateral shifts or roundabouts will break up long stretches of road and force drivers to reduce speeding to safely maneuver turns. By implementing horizontal deflections in roadways driver behavior can be altered organically in a way that simply placing a speed limit sign could not.

Sharp curves in a roadway are an effective way to decrease speeds. However, care must be taken because if the noted speed for one curve is not accurate and drivers are able to comfortably drive at higher speeds, they will be less likely to match the marked speeds at other curves. Drivers will regularly match the speed they feel most comfortable with, not the one listed on the sign. Additionally, signage like chevrons and flashing lights can help convince the drivers that the speed advisory needs to be adhered to for their own safety. With proper signage, long curves are an effective way to lower speeds.

Installing Vertical Deflections Sparingly

The introduction of speed bumps, tables, and raised crossings to a roadway is a physical barrier that forces drivers to reduce speeding. However, vertical deflections are used sparingly because they can create difficulties for maintenance, plowing, and emergency services. It is for this reason that speed bumps and tables are primarily used in parking lots or lower traffic areas like residential roads.

Reducing Road Width to Improve Safety

The wider the road the more likely drivers will be willing to change lanes to maintain higher speeds. After data collection is performed and it is determined that, for instance, a four-lane road does not carry enough traffic volume to justify its width, a variety of modifications can be made. Removing excess lanes to implement bike lanes and adding constant turn lanes are some examples. They assist with traffic flow on top of width reduction to limit the potential for drivers to speed. In addition, width reduction has the benefit of shrinking the distance of crosswalks which improves pedestrian safety.

Benefitting From Instant Feedback

Driver feedback signs that use flashing lights and show the incoming driver’s speed are an effective way to drive down speeds over short distances. Radar signs with instant feedback are best applied in transition areas, like the lead up into a small town where the posted speed limit can drop from 55 to 40 and then to 30 miles per hour. As drivers slow down in response to the feedback, they will be less likely to speed back up once they reach the lower speeds in town. However, feedback signs are far less effective outside of transition areas as driver compliance can be expected only so long as the feedback is visible.

What WSB Can Do to Help?

WSB staff brings vast experiences working with agencies on a wide variety of construction projects all across the country. Whether updating existing roadways or designing brand new, WSB’s traffic team will cover every avenue to make roads safer. Additionally, as many agencies are moving forward with focusing improvements to put more focus on the Americans with Disabilities Act, WSB has been leading the way in showing the value of not only making drivers and pedestrians safer, but also making our roads more equitable for everyone.

Sean has nearly 30 years of transportation experience. He specializes in traffic operations, lighting, signing & striping, and signal design. He is a licensed Professional Traffic Operations Engineer and leads WSB’s Traffic Engineering Group. Prior to joining WSB, Sean served 17 years with MnDOT, where he worked mainly in the Metro and Central Office Traffic Engineering.

[email protected] | 612.360.1322

Sean Delmore


WSB Celebrates Graduation of Fifth Opportunity+ Cohort

April 10, 2024

Participants of the 2024 cohort of Opportunity+ have successfully completed the training program and celebrated with a graduation in early April.

Minneapolis, Minn. – Design and consulting firm WSB today announced the graduation of the 2024 Opportunity+ cohort. Opportunity+ is a free workforce training and development program focused on preparing participants for successful careers as civil engineering technicians.

This free and fast-paced training program was founded with the intent to reduce and remove some of the barriers to a successful career as a civil engineering technician. As Opportunity+ celebrates its fifth year, it has grown into a robust program— reaching new audiences and diversifying the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry.

“What makes Opportunity+ so unique is that it is driven solely to prepare the participants for a long-lasting career,” said Laura Rescorla, program manager. “We try our best to make this program accessible to anyone that is interested. This year, we transitioned to a faster-paced program to better accommodate those enrolled. We want each participant to be successful, and I am incredibly proud of this year’s graduates.”


The 2024 Opportunity+ cohort celebrated 11 graduates on April 4. The cohort underwent an efficient six-week training in various aspects required for civil engineering technicians. With both classroom learning and hands-on experiences, graduates are now well-equipped for a future in this industry with skills necessary to launch careers in surveying, construction materials testing and site inspection.

“Our goal is to constantly improve. We are always looking for new ways to lead the AEC industry, and we are especially invested in supporting members of our community,” said Bret Weiss, president and CEO. “Opportunity+ is one way we can help those around us. We are building the program to better support the needs of our participants, and I am thrilled to see 11 successful graduates prepare for long-term careers. Civil engineering technicians are critical to our infrastructure. I am confident that each graduate now has the skills to make a positive impact on infrastructure— the places, spaces and systems that support our lives.”

WSB is committed to the growth of this program. The firm values increasing diversity and finding ways to be more inclusive. Opportunity+ continues to play an active role in expanding the reach of the AEC industry while preparing participants with knowledge to dive into positions as civil engineering technicians.

New partnership

Q&A with Andy Kaiyala and Joe Eberly

April 4, 2024

Last week, WSB announced a new partnership with 4M Analytics to advance infrastructure programs and projects with real-time utility data. Andy Kaiyala, VP of Digital Construction Management and Controls at WSB, and Joe Eberly, Vice President of Growth & Sales Strategy at 4M Analytics, recently addressed the benefits of the partnership and what it will mean for our clients and partners.

Q: What does this mean for the industry?

Andy: WSB continues to build out a comprehensive Digital Construction Management (DCM) offering to better serve our clients, and this partnership with 4M Analytics is another step forward. Every construction project must consider what lies beneath the ground. 4M is applying cutting edge technology to this significant problem, delivering the best data, and making it available faster than any other firm. This does not take the place of field investigation, but rather informs those investigations to be more precise and reliable.  Everyone wins in this. 

Joe: With utility risk as one of the primary challenges in the industry, the WSB/4M partnership advances the mitigation efforts to the earliest stages of the project planning lifecycle and at the lowest risk point. It also provides significant improvements in the time and cost of accessing utility records and data used in the early feasibility, coordination, pre-construction, and preliminary design processes on infrastructure projects.

Q: What does this mean for 4M’s clients?

Joe: The partnership will signal to the 4M Analytics client base that our utility data can have a much larger impact on their internal processes and create a vision for how the data can be used to support their project lifecycle workflows and development requirements.

Andy: Despite increased awareness and heightened attention, our industry continues to see an upward trend in utility strikes (Common Ground Alliance). These cost billions of dollars and most critically put people and lives at risk. Better information delivered timely across the life cycle of a project, from planning to construction, will help all parties mitigate this serious risk, deliver projects safely, on time, and on budget. This is what DCM is all about. Helping you be safe, deliver with the highest quality, and do so while protecting your bottom line and beating the schedule.

Q: How quickly will this partnership have an impact?

Joe: The partnership will have an immediate market impact and will increase our messaging efforts to support our clients and the industry more broadly and bring awareness that the conventional methods of construction delivery are no longer sustainable in a market where time and resources are becoming scarcer.

Andy: It already is. We are incorporating the 4M data into 3D models for constructability review, means and methods, risk analysis and mitigation, schedule review, design conflict resolution, and more.  We really are putting the design model to work, and how would you do that without the best subsurface data available quick enough to make a difference? Our position is that you can’t, and the sooner more owners and contractors begin deploying this solution, the better off the industry will be.

Q: How does this partnership work between the two companies?

Joe: The 4M partnership adds a layer of usability and value to the WSB DCM delivery model. Specifically, the ability to enhance the DCM 3D modeling services on the Bentley Platform. The result is a seamless delivery of data that can connect the office to the field, saving time and money along the way while reducing risk and improving decision making.

Andy: Through 4M advanced technology we can quickly and efficiently bring subsurface utility data into our digital representation of the future physical asset – into the digital twin. We then publish that data into SYNCHRO, leveraging another of our partnerships with powerhouse technology provider Bentley Systems, and start making better decisions. Seamless access to all the critical information you need to plan, design, bid, win, and build the work.

Q: Why is this happening now? Why this partnership?

Andy:  The time is now. We must work quickly to address utility conflict and coordination, one of the most significant risks in our industry. 4M brings the technology and the data, and our WSB team leverages that information to better deliver our projects safely, on time, on schedule, and with the quality WSB is known for. 

Joe: The scope and scale of the utility data challenge, and the inherent risk, have now been matched by 4M’s ability to apply its utility AI mapping technology at the same scale. 4M and WSB delivers reliable, real-time, and validated utility data for any project in the U.S. — right from your office.

Joe Eberly is the Vice President of Growth & Sales Strategy at 4M Analytics, Inc. and has more than 25 year’s experience in Construction Technology, serving the Public and Private Owner, Engineering and General Contractor markets. Prior to joining 4M, Joe served as the VP of Sales at e-Builder, a Capital Construction Management Software, which was acquired by Trimble in 2018. At Trimble, Joe was responsible for Sales, Account Management and Customer Success for the Owner & Public Sector and led the GTM launch for ProjectSight, a Project Management platform for General Contractors. Before entering the technology world, Joe was a Superintendent and Warranty Manager for a top-10 development company in the residential building market and owned a consulting firm focused on construction material management and value engineering services. Joe lives and works from Denver, Colorado and enjoys spending time with his grandkids.    

Andy Kaiyala is the Vice President of Digital Construction Management and Controls at WSB. With over 20 years of experience and an emphasis on large, complex, alternative delivery infrastructure projects in the transportation, heavy civil, flood control, and transit spaces, Andy brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise. At WSB, Andy leads the firm’s DCM initiative as the AEC industry is recognizing the value of digital delivery. Prior to joining WSB, Andy was responsible for domestic and international bidding and proposal efforts for Lane Construction Corporation. Andy’s career focus has been to deploy a full project life-cycle approach to business strategy that facilitates stakeholder involvement and achieves project schedule and delivery certainty. He currently works out of WSB’s Dallas office and guides clients through a process that mitigates risk and reduces conflict for all stakeholders.