Carol Brzozowski 2015-10-12 15:42:10
In the Chicago area, Thomas J. Kehoe is constantly dealing with issues related to impermeable soils. “There’s a lot of clay and glacial till, so when we have construction projects and get rain events, there’s a lot of runoff,” he says. As a senior environmental resources specialist and manager of NPDES compliance for Christopher B. Burke Engineering (CBBEL) in Rosemont, IL, Kehoe’s must ensure stormwater pollution prevention plans (SWPPPs) are being followed and BMPs are functioning properly. “Lately, it seems every rain event—especially this summer—has been greater than a half inch, which in Illinois triggers the need to do an inspection of BMPs within 24 hours,” he says. “The water coming off of construction sites after a rain event when there’s ponding is dirty. The first thing they do is drop a pump and hose in it. Dewatering is always a big challenge here because the pumping picks up that sediment and they’re forcing it into the nearest creek to get it off their construction site so they can keep going. We’re constantly stopping people from dewatering and making them put out sediment bags and other products that will help filter out some of those clay particles and other particles before they discharge directly into the creeks.” Kehoe favors water detention through a sediment trap or pool. The problem with that, though, is that most construction sites in an urbanized area like Chicagoland are confined with every bit of space being used for the project being constructed, notes Kehoe. “They can’t devote any area to allow the water to sit long enough to have the sediment drop out. That’s why we recommend using sediment bags, filters, and other measures to try to mechanically pull some of that sediment out.” What He Does Day to Day Kehoe helps clients comply with federal, state, and local sediment and erosion control rules and regulations. He does paperwork for such tasks as applications for permit coverage—including drafting SWPPPs—in the office, and then hits the field to inspect construction projects, where he completes the SWPPP documentation. He photographs construction progress at the sites, discussing recognized deficiencies or perceived upcoming challenges with the appropriate site representatives. What Led Him Into This Line of Work Kehoe was interested in science from a young age. “I was always fascinated with biology and the environment,” he says. “I did a lot of outdoor activities as a kid such as camping, hiking, and playing in the woods. I developed a strong appreciation for natural areas. I was always sad as I saw development move into the areas in which I played as a kid—they were gradually paved over and the natural areas were lost.” Kehoe earned a B.A. in biology from North Central College in Napierville, IL, where he focused on environmental science. After college, he worked for the US Army Corps of Engineers’ regulatory branch, reviewing applications for projects typically involving filling in wetlands. “It was a great job and good experience, but I really missed being out in the field where I felt I could make a difference,” says Kehoe. “I went into consulting and never looked back.” What He Likes Best About His Work “I like that I am able to help clients obtain the appropriate permits and maintain compliance with regulations and be able to accomplish what they wish to accomplish with construction projects,” says Kehoe. “The best part is the people and going out to job sites to see my recommendations and suggestions in action.” His Greatest Challenge Kehoe’s most significant challenge is managing several large projects going on at the same time and being able to keep an eye on all of them to ensure they stay in compliance, especially as they require site visits after a half-inch and greater storm events. “With all of the projects at different stages of construction, you always have to know what is happening and what your level of exposure is when rain events occur,” he says. “Some sites will be fine, but others will be a disaster if it rains at particular times. It is a challenge to stay organized as well. I keep good documentation of everything I see and do.” EC Carol Brzozowski writes on erosion control and technology.
Published by Forester Media. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.erosioncontrol.com/article/Reader+Profile/2294943/276105/article.html.