Meet A Sponsor

Bob Long: Principal Consultant

“We work in environmental consulting because we have an intimate connection with the natural environment. We are passionate about finding a sustainable balance between the natural world and the demands of the human built environment and driven to meet these challenges.”

Q&A with NEDC Student Board Member Audrey Leonard

First of all, what is a hydrogeologist, and what led you to that career?

A hydrogeologist is a professional that studies the movement of groundwater. It’s a combination of engineering and geology background, and you can take it even further with specialties in water production, site remediation, water rights, and geochemistry.

What brought me here was a fascination with the natural environment, water, and the great outdoors. I obtained a geology degree, and at that time was very interested in forestry, so I started taking forestry courses at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY, and then started a Master’s degree that bridged that interest with geology and hydrogeology at the school of engineering at Syracuse University. I worked in the White Mountains looking at acid rain research, water quality equilibrium modeling, and toxicity in small terrestrial streams.

What brought you to the Pacific Northwest?

It’s always been a place I wanted to go. I visited here as a kid- up in Seattle and Yakima areas and always said I would come back here for college, but never did. I went to Buffalo, then stayed in my hometown of Syracuse for graduate school. So finally, around 1992 I came out to the Pacific Northwest because that’s where I wanted to start my career in groundwater and questions of groundwater availability, supply, and water rights in the West were all very interesting to me. That’s what I wanted to do, so I packed my Honda and dog and drove out here.

Tell me about the environmental consulting work you do.

A cwm (pronounced “koom”) is a mountain cirque, and a mountain cirque in the West captures a lot of the water we use, and that powers our rivers and powers our ecosystems. C-w-M  also stands for Complete Water Management, so no matter how you remember it, that’s what we do.

We work to find solutions for surface water, groundwater, and stormwater issues and try to integrate anthropomorphic development and the natural world that allow for a “best solution” to projects that are proposed in the Pacific Northwest. In some cases, we work for tribes, sometimes for cities, sometimes for private developers, and other times for agricultural interests. We try to provide the best solution to whatever problem is being posed, or whatever issue is at hand. We also offer 3rd party opinions on proposed solutions and offer alternative solutions to some of the cut and dry solutions that have become common or out of touch with the latest technology. .

What are some of the more difficult challenges to your work?

We have an extremely competitive environment for use of our water in West. We have to retain  capacity for natural ecosystems to thrive and in some cases, recover, and at the same time it’s a tremendous demand that the human environment puts on our natural resources and the challenge is always; “how we accommodate that”? It can’t just be all one way or all another, so a big part of the challenge is finding the balance that will work for all stakeholders.

And the most rewarding parts?

To see really complex permitting and environmental issues come together in a way that both protects the environment and finds technically robust and aesthetically pleasing solutions for the project’s objectives and goals,  which meet the requirements of the human environment and can be encroaching on or sometimes integrated with natural environment. When you really get those things pulled together, that’s the most rewarding project.

What do you value about NEDC that made you decide to be a sponsor for Pedal Pursuit?

We may be working with a group like yours to support whatever it is they’re interested in supporting and sometimes we’re working on the developer’s side. What I appreciate is that both sides are valuing facts and the science behind solutions and not jumping to conclusions that are not based on good scientifically rigorous tested background.

I’m all for strong advocacy groups and all for doing things the right way and I think we need strong advocacy groups to make that happen in a lot of cases.

Sometimes people need help considering the potential impacts of their project and how those actions affect the rest of not only human culture, but the environmental ecosystem. There are solutions that can be found- but maybe they’re not as simple and as inexpensive as once thought.

Our job is to do a lot of education for some of our clients in development community to help them get up to speed as to what the feasibility of a project really is from an environmental perspective.