April Newsletter from McFadden Engineering

April 7, 2021

Importance of an Environmental Consultant 

By: David Crawford 

As a manufacturer or someone that occupies a space in the industrial sector, your process will create byproducts of some sort. Environmental air emissions, waste, wastewater, stormwater, and other constituents will be regulated on a local, state, and federal level. To achieve environmental compliance, these different regulatory levels will require monitoring and reporting to remain in environmental compliance. 

At McFadden Engineering, we realize that achieving environmental compliance can be a challenge for many companies. Navigating the complex environmental regulatory requirements can be costly and time-consuming if not done correctly. We excel in providing a streamlined process through safe, cost effective, and innovative solutions while simplifying the path to achieve maximum compliance. 

At McFadden Engineering, we understand that environmental compliance can be a burden at times and is not always the primary focus. 

We use our years of experience and expertise to create practical solutions for monitoring, reporting, and permitting that still allow clients to stay focused on essential plant components and running their business. We stay up to date on changes in regulatory requirements and provide clarity of ongoing requirements during times of political change. 

McFadden Engineering has a wealth of experience covering a broad range of civil and environmental services. Our specialties include environmental permitting for municipal, commercial and industrial dischargers, environmental permitting and compliance management for industrial manufacturing facilities, site assessments and remediation, master planning for utilities, water quality projects, and wastewater process design. 

Planning for the Future 

No matter what challenges you have within the environmental compliance requirements of your buisiness, finding the best solution to ovecome it is a neccesity. We take great pride in serving some of the same clients we started with nearly 35 years ago. Our success lies within the long term relationships we maintain with our clients. Let McFadden Engineering partner with you on your next project. We succeed when our clients succeed. 

We’re excited to introduce a monthly newsletter to share information about our team, industry news and recent projects. This month we’re discussing the essential role of environmental consultants, and the importance of building long-term relationships with our clients.

Click to download the full newsletter, and get in touch if you have questions or would like to discuss a project opportunity. 

New Employee Spotlight: Evan Bedwell

March 2, 2021
Evan Bedwell

It’s been an exciting year at McFadden Engineering, partially because we’ve welcomed a few new faces to our team. One of our new staff engineers, Evan Bedwell, is a 2020 graduate from University of South Alabama. Even though he’s new to our team full-time, Evan actually began his journey with us as an intern throughout his four years of college. Although an internship wasn’t required for his major, Evan has a passion for the industry and wanted an opportunity to learn and gain real-world experience. 

As a full-time staff member, Evan assists with engineering calculations, report development and water sampling when needed. He continues to learn on the job, and considers water resources to be one of his favorite areas of civil engineering to work on. Recently, Evan has worked on the design of a wastewater treatment plant in Clay, Ala. and assisted with AutoCAD drawings, hydraulic profiling and cost estimating. 

One of Evan’s favorite parts of McFadden Engineering is the family atmosphere. Evan has been a part of the McFadden Engineering family for a while, both in the office and outside of the office. He attended church with partner Brad Newton for years, and was even coached by him in basketball during high school. Evan appreciates knowing the CEO on a personal level and having meaningful relationships with other members of the team. 

We’ve appreciated Evan’s contributions to the team as an intern, and are looking forward to seeing his growth as a staff engineer moving forward.

New Employee Spotlight: David Crawford

February 26, 2021
David Crawford

McFadden Engineering is excited to announce the addition of a new employee, David Crawford. David has been working with us as a project engineer for the past eight months. His day-to-day responsibilities involve serving as a collaborative voice on all projects. He handles general project management and works closely with everyone on the McFadden team to make sure each project stays on track from start to finish.

David is originally from Mobile and attended the University of Alabama, where he obtained his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. He started his career in the forestry industry, dealing with air, water and waste regulations for forest products. Before working for McFadden Engineering, David ran the western region of Canfor’s environmental compliance division as an environmental manager for five years. 

McFadden Engineering has a small, family-oriented culture, which attracted David to our company because he loves working in the area where he grew up. He enjoys the technical design projects and diverse industry work that we do at McFadden. David also has a longtime relationship with our CEO, Frank McFadden, from being in church together over the years.

David is a hardworking and experienced engineer, and we are excited to have on our team. We look forward to seeing everything he accomplishes in his new role as project engineer.

McFadden Engineering Promotes Brad Newton to Firm Partner

June 23, 2020
Brad Newton, P.E.

McFadden Engineering recently announced Brad Newton, P.E., as a new partner at the firm. Newton has worked for McFadden Engineering for more than 20 years, and his extensive list of skills includes experience in developing waste load allocations and water quality models for discharge permits, as well as designing numerous wastewater treatment and disposal systems.  

“I am very thankful for the opportunity to become a partner in the firm and look forward to transitioning into this new role,” Newton says. “When I look back at the past 20 years, I am grateful for the investment the leadership at McFadden Engineering have made in my career because I believe it has prepared me for this opportunity.” 

Newton has served as Vice President of McFadden Engineering and acts as project manager and senior engineer, overseeing design activities and issuance of deliverables to clients. Newton manages day-to-day operations for the company as vice president. Newton says, “I look forward to continuing to lead our staff as we grow our firm.”   

Founder and CEO Frank McFadden commented, “Brad exemplifies the integrity, work ethic, and leadership standards upon which we built McFadden Engineering. His contributions to our company have made the firm a stronger and more solid place to work. In supporting his love of coaching team sports, we recognized that he could translate that coaching experience into managing and encouraging the McFadden team. His leadership for the future will be invaluable.” 

Outside of work, Newton is active in the ministries of Cottage Hill Baptist Church, where he serves as a Life Group leader and deacon. He is also invested in the ministry of Cottage Hill Christian Academy, where he coaches basketball and is a member of various school committees. He has been married to his wife Jennifer for 17 years and has twin daughters, Emily and Ashlyn.  

McFadden Engineering’s team of water and wastewater experts specialize in providing environmentally sound solutions to solve unique civil and environmental engineering needs. Based in Mobile, Ala. for more than 30 years, McFadden Engineering has worked on projects including environmental permitting for municipal, commercial and industrial dischargers, site assessments and remediation, master planning for utilities, water quality projects and wastewater process design. Visit mcfaddenengineering.com for more information. 

Using HPT Technology to Enhance Subsurface Investigations

May 7, 2020

Understanding groundwater preferential pathways is a critical link in the development of conceptual site models and the design of groundwater remediation strategies. Identifying and mapping transmission zones that contaminants favor, or “preferential pathways,” is crucial when making decisions about how to best approach groundwater remediation at a site. Time and money can be saved by using technology to quickly gain a comprehensive picture of subsurface hydrogeologic conditions. 

Hydraulic Profiling Tool (HPT) systems are an asset in gaining a detailed picture of the subsurface. Used with mobile drilling platforms, an HPT probe system can provide boring logs that make it easy to interpret subsurface soil characteristics.

Defining Compounds Found in Soil and Groundwater
VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are legally defined, but generally are organic compounds that evaporate at low temperatures, typically room temperature or below. Because of their volatility, they are more mobile than many other compounds.  The USEPA and other regulatory agencies set limits for many VOCS in air, soil and water.

SVOCs (semi-volatile organic compounds) are legally defined but have lower volatility and evaporate at higher temperatures than VOCs. Because of their lower volatility, they can remain in soil or water for long periods of time and accumulate more readily than VOCs. The USEPA and other regulatory agencies set limits for many SVOS in air, soil and water.

HPT Operation and Benefits
An HPT system operates by applying water through a small opening on the side of the drilling probe as it is advanced through the subsurface. Water pressure and flow rate are monitored by the HPT logging system and displayed in real time. Sandy soils that contaminants favor and clays that affect groundwater flow are easily identified. Electrical conductivity logs can also be generated using the HPT system for an added parameter in interpreting subsurface conditions.

A Membrane Interface Probe (MIP) can operate in conjunction with an HPT, and is used to detect the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in real time and at accurate depths. An added benefit of HPT, electrical conductivity and MIP technology is their footprint. Nothing is removed from the subsurface which means investigation waste, along with the associated disposal costs, is nearly eliminated.

Case Study: Using HPT in the Field
McFadden Engineering (MEI) utilized HPT boring logs to create stratigraphic cross sections to develop a conceptual model of groundwater flow at a large site near Mobile, Alabama. A product released into soil and groundwater at an industrial facility impacted groundwater quality over many acres. MEI was retained by the client to conduct a subsurface investigation and design an effective remediation strategy.

Preliminary site assessments revealed a very complex geologic lithology. Using HPT in conjunction with discrete groundwater sampling conducted at various depths, geologists and engineers at MEI identified preferential flow pathways for contaminated groundwater at the site. This information was used to construct two remediation systems designed to intercept, capture and treat contaminated groundwater prior to interacting with surface water in the area. Recovery wells were installed at depths that coincided with preferential pathways identified using HPT to efficiently target contaminated zones.  

In teaming up with our industry partners and utilizing HPT and MIP technology, MEI can bring great value to clients that need quick assessment of subsurface conditions. By identifying and targeting groundwater preferential pathways, MEI can design effective remedial options tailored to specific site hydrogeologic and contaminant properties.    

Hydrogeology Expertise: Our Approach to Site Evaluation and Remediation

May 7, 2020

Hydrogeology is the study of groundwater distribution and movement over the ground surface and through soils and rocks. At McFadden Engineering (MEI), we have a team of professional Engineers and Geologists who specialize in hydrogeology. Contaminants that reach the soil frequently become a two-part problem as both the soil and the groundwater in the soil can be affected.  

Groundwater, Surface Water and Groundwater Contamination

Groundwater is water (liquid or frozen) that has seeped below the earth’s surface and is stored in the spaces between soil or rock particles. An aquifer is created when a large amount of groundwater is stored in the same place. Groundwater flows through the soil or rock under the influence of gravity, usually on the order of a few inches to a few feet per year. Surface water is water (liquid or frozen) located above the surface of the ground, including stormwater runoff, streams, creeks, rivers, glaciers, ponds, lakes and oceans. Surface water usually flows more quickly than groundwater.

Soil and groundwater contamination impacts the public and the environment in many ways:

  • It can affect drinking water quality and can lead to health maladies associated with drinking contaminated water.
  • Contamination can devalue property and limit future uses for that property.
  • When buildings or residences are built on top of contaminated soil there may be a danger of vapors traveling up through foundations and into the air inside, where people may breathe in toxic compounds. 
  • Natural habitats for wildlife may be lost in areas with contaminated soil and groundwater. This is particularly true for aquatic habitats.

Site Evaluation and Remediation Approach

When it comes to our hydrogeology expertise and working with clients, we evaluate the entire site including the soil, the groundwater, and the surface water to determine the extent of the problem our clients might be facing. In addition, we also hold expertise in EPA standards and compliance regulations; software such as SW2 help us understand the issues faced by different construction projects, and knowing how to read epa swmm helps us turn data into actionable insights.

When it comes to site solutions, remediating the soil is usually the easiest option. If the area can be excavated, removing the impacted soil and disposing of the material is typically the quickest and cheapest option. However, when contamination is under a building or other structure, or it reaches the groundwater in the soil, the situation is often more complex. Furthermore, regulatory agencies are more sensitive to groundwater issues because groundwater is mobile and can travel off-site.

To tackle these challenges, we construct subsurface cross-sections and use groundwater modeling to develop hydraulic flow models for sites. These models help us predict groundwater flow direction and velocity, and indicate the best place to attack the issue with remediation systems. Using these tools and our experience in dealing with these issues, we can develop a cost-effective approach to cleaning up the site while meeting the regulatory requirements that may be present.

Timeline for Cleanup

Many variables can play a part in the timeframe for cleanup work. These can include:

  • Cost of remediating a site and how much funding is available to spend to solve the problem. 
  • The chemical/physical nature of the contaminating chemical(s). For example, if the chemical dissolves easily in groundwater, it is easier to deal with than a chemical that separates itself from water (think oil/water). 
  • The concentrations of the contaminants in soil or groundwater will affect how long it takes to remove them or break them down.
  • The response of time of state regulators is a big factor. It can take months to get approval from ADEM or another state’s regulatory agency to proceed with a remediation plan.

Best Management Practices

McFadden Engineering also specializes in designing Best Management Practices (BMPs) required at many sites. BMPs help minimize runoff that can ultimately allow contaminants to enter the surface water and groundwater. We can help keep clients in compliance by designing a Best Management Practices program, obtaining the necessary permits, and performing the required monitoring to help maintain compliance. 

Our team has the personnel, tools and experience needed to help you develop a solution to solve your on-site challenges. If you have questions or are looking for project assistance, contact our team.

How a Certified Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Can Get Your Facility Back on Track

April 21, 2020
Q&A with Jimmy Wiggins, a Grade IV Certified WWTP Operator at McFadden Engineering

Some wastewater treatment facilities operate with an in-house facility management staff, but many other facilities do not have the resources to employ an experienced team to operate their wastewater treatment system. In these situations, it can be beneficial to consult with an environmental engineering firm with a certified wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) operator to develop optimized processes and recommendations to achieve regulatory compliance.

McFadden Engineering’s certified Grade IV Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator, Jimmy Wiggins, discusses the firm’s consultation process and benefits:

Q: What kind of wastewater treatment facilities often need assistance from a certified WWTP operator?

A: We do a lot of work with smaller and rural municipalities, water boards and other organizations that might have a facilities team, but not a dedicated wastewater treatment plant operator. Many times our clients employ an operator who doesn’t have much experience and works alone or with a very small team. We have worked with organizations of all sizes and operators of varying experience levels.

Q: When is the right time to reach out to a consulting engineering firm?

A: A process upset in the plant that cannot be resolved in house with routine corrective actions; a process is being altered or upgraded; compliance issues; applying for new discharge permits; new process equipment is being purchased and installed – each of these is a situation in which an experienced engineering firm can provide guidance. Sometimes all it takes is a sit-down discussion to answer questions, but other times an engineering firm can develop drawings, communicate with vendors, review equipment submittals and more to assist the in-house operator. 

Q: What would be the first steps you would recommend to a non-compliant WWTP to help them recover?

A: The first step is to reach out to an environmental engineering firm with a certified WWTP Operator to perform a site assessment. A firm like this can make recommendations to help the plant reach recovery, which could range from mechanical and process control issues to laboratory procedures.  A list of priorities can be developed to determine what issues to tackle first. Usually it starts by getting a handle on biological and lab data, then focusing on the mechanical components of the process. Additionally, recovery could include additional training for the facility’s operator and staff. It’s important to understand that when dealing with biological processes it can take time to make adjustments and corrections in order to see results.

Q: As an operator, what do you look for when initially assessing a treatment system?

A: As an operator, the first thing I want to evaluate is the lab data.  This will give us a pretty good idea of how the plant is processing the wastewater. This includes monthly reporting to agencies and daily lab data if available. In addition, maintenance logs and equipment history are usually very helpful in evaluating issues. It’s important to observe the appearance and odor of the wastewater in all the processes. I also try to take a few hours with the senior operator on-site to walk through the entire process and ask questions.

Q: How important is an operation and maintenance program to the overall performance of a wastewater treatment facility? 

A: Without a detailed and working maintenance program to guide the operator daily by outlining the mechanical needs within the plant, the operator could be set up for failure. All WWTP equipment should be maintained on a routine basis to add life and functionality. There are multiple free and low-cost software that can track these needs. It can be time consuming up front, but in the long run an ongoing maintenance program will allow the operator to have a better handle on equipment status, the treatment process,  and avoiding issues later.

Q: What are some simple things owners can do to extend the life of mechanical equipment at a treatment plant?

A: Establish a user-friendly maintenance program using the equipment manufacturer recommendations. We recommend assigning one operator to take ownership and verify all maintenance is performed correctly, on time and that a record is kept of the activities. Routine maintenance is key, as is paying attention to the simple things – greasing bearings, checking belt tensions, changing oil and maintaining oil levels, etc.  All these things can extend the life of equipment. Good housekeeping and keeping the facility clean and organized is just as important, too. 

Q: What are some safety guidelines for treatment plants?

A: WWTPs can be dangerous if operators and staff are not trained properly. First, chemical training is important, as hazardous materials like chlorine and sulfur dioxide are commonly used and should be handled properly. Otherwise, it’s important to follow common sense. For instance, I always ask a new operator if they can swim.  Additionally, any body of water should have a fence or barrier to prevent falls and life rings to prevent drowning. I also recommend operators employ the “buddy system” when possible. Always use the three-point rule when climbing stairs and ladders, and only allow certified personnel to work on electrical components. I also recommend that full safety training be performed by a certified trainer to all operators and staff. All training should be documented.

Q: What does McFadden Engineering offer when it comes to consulting on WWTP operations?

A: Our team of wastewater treatment experts have more than 100 years of combined experience and have been exposed to many issues and problems that individual facility operators likely have not encountered. We’re here to help operators as an ally – to solve unique problems and provide training to give them the comfort level to work confidently within their facility. We take pride in both problem solving and building operator confidence through training and expert guidance.

For more information about McFadden Engineering’s Facility Management and Operations services, click here or contact our team

Introducing Beverly Lowery, Environmental Technician

February 28, 2019

Beverly Lowery is a native of Biloxi, MS who fell in love with Mobile while obtaining her undergraduate degree in geology at The University of South Alabama. After graduating with her master’s degree in environmental science from The University of West Florida in August of 2018, she moved back to make Mobile her new home. She worked briefly at Energy Technical Services as an environmental lab technician before coming to work at McFadden Engineering. Before going back to school for her geology and environmental science degrees, she worked as an accountant for five years in Biloxi, Mississippi.

What led you to go back to school to study geology?

I had always wanted to be a geologist since I was a little girl. I started working when I was 14 and just naturally fell into the management and accounting field, but after getting my associates degree and working in the field for five years, I felt unsatisfied. I still longed to live out my dream of becoming a geologist, so I made the decision to go back and get my geology degree. I crave knowledge and enjoy learning, so going back to school to study what I love was an honor that I gave to myself. While obtaining my undergraduate degree, I became fascinated with researching natural ways to remediate polluted water. This led to me attending The University of West Florida where I got to research and create a water filter made out of biosolids biochar, while working at the university as an instructor and obtaining my graduate degree.

What attracted you to McFadden Engineering?

I first heard of McFadden Engineering when I attended a Partners for Environmental Progress breakfast that they sponsored. During this breakfast, McFadden Vice President Brad Newton got up to give a brief speech before the main guest went on. He talked about the company and their invention of the OxyShark® Water Reclamation System and when he went to sit down, I remember thinking “no wait, keep talking.”

Later a professor from UWF emailed me about an opening at the company and I knew I had to apply. I loved working at an analytical lab and testing water for various analytes, but I wanted to be part of the solution for improving water quality and eliminating excesses in these analytes that can be harmful to the environment. I felt that working for McFadden Engineering would allow me to use my skills and knowledge to better insure a safe and healthy environment.

What do you like most about being part of McFadden Engineering?

Honestly, everything, but mainly the people I work with. Being part of a great team that works together to solve environmental issues where everybody’s ideas and work comes together to form this wonderful solution, is incredible. I’m also learning a lot from everyone here and growing as an environmental geologist.

Beverly’s research in the field of wastewater treatment systems has been published in the journal Environmental Earth Sciences (2018) and been presented to the Geological Society of America about stormwater runoff (2015) and groundwater discharge (2016).


McFadden Engineering named as the 2018 Innovator of the Year

December 5, 2018

Frank and Hope McFadden along with Brad Newton

The Mobile Area Chamber named McFadden Engineering as the 2018 Innovator of the Year. OxyShark, a cost-effective wastewater treatment system has taken McFadden Engineering to the next level. “We wanted to develop a system that treated everything from domestic sewage to industrial strength wastewater in an efficient, reliable manner that was low in operation and maintenance costs,” said Frank McFadden, president and founder. Visit the Mobile Area Chamber’s latest issue Mobile Area Chamber Dec 2018- Jan2019.

Mobile Chamber of Commerce- Small Business of the Month

August 31, 2018

McFadden Engineering SPOTLIGHT

Thank you to the Mobile Chamber for featuring McFadden Engineering as the Small Business of the Month for September.

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