Water resources engineering focuses on the planning, development and management of water sources such as rivers and lakes. Water resources engineers design the infrastructure needed to meet the water needs of communities and oversee the treatment of domestic wasters and industrial waste waters. These engineers often work for government agencies, local authorities, providers of engineering services and technical consulting firms.
Doing the Work
Because water resource engineers design various infrastructures, such as water treatment systems and , they need good imagination and creative abilities to develop systems that can work effectively. These engineers also need good problem-solving skills to create practical solutions to water resource management challenges, such as rising sea levels, and communication skills to share information with other professionals such as architects and urban planners.
The main responsibility of water resource engineers is to create environmentally and economically viable solutions that address various water issues. For example, these professionals often engineer solutions or develop programs for ground water utilization and protection, river restoration and flood protection. Before implementing these solutions, water resources engineers write project plans and present them to their employers for review and consideration. They also prepare tender documents and train project staff such as engineering technicians.
When water resources engineers are not working on projects, they engage in research to gather information on various water-related topics. For example, they can study the impacts of waste water collection, treatment and distribution on the environment and publish their findings in industry journals or newsletters. Water resource engineers also recommend water treatment methods to water distribution plants and factories and assess the efficiency of water delivery structures such as pipes, canals and dams.
Entering the Profession
To become a water resource engineer, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree in civil or environmental engineering or a closely related field. You also must obtain a license to practice in your state. Although licensing requirements vary among states, you generally need to hold a bachelor’s degree and pass the fundamentals of engineering and professional engineering exams. Licensed water engineers who gain vast job experience and earn a graduate degree in business administration or project management can move into senior positions where roles, such as project manager, await. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t list water resource engineers separately, it reports that as of 2013, civil engineers and environmental engineers had mean annual wages of $85,640 and $85,520, respectively.
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