What is Environmental Science?

Environmental Science is a diverse, multidisciplinary field that chiefly deals with understanding the nature or quality of one’s surroundings. These surroundings may vary significantly from natural to manmade or subaqueous to terrestrial. An environmental scientist’s study area can range in size by orders of magnitude; from a proposed half-acre house lot to a 100+-acre former military base.

What can an Environmental Scientist do for me?

While the setting for an environmental scientist’s investigations may vary considerably from site to site, the relationship between an environmental scientist and any client will always be the same in that an environmental scientist has one primary goal; to provide accurate and precise data. The kind of data provided depends on the needs of the client and the background of the environmental scientist.

Natural Resources

An environmental scientist is able to approach a property and identify different components that are of interest to a client. Typically, these are protected natural resources that invoke the jurisdiction of various regulatory agencies at the local, state, and federal level. The environmental scientist may then represent the client in communications with the various regulatory agencies to determine the most appropriate level of protection or jurisdictional status for a given resource. These efforts determine the suitability and limitations of a property for any given development purpose. Natural resource investigations include, but are not limited to:

  • Wetland Delineation & Mapping
  • Wetland Functional Assessments
  • Wetland Mitigation Planning
  • Vernal Pool Surveys
  • High-Intensity Soil Surveys
  • Small-whorled Pogonia Surveys
Frog Eggs
A hatched wood frog egg mass, one of the vernal pool biological indicator species.

Wastewater Disposal

Properties not served by municipal sewer systems must find an alternative means of wastewater disposal. Typically, this requires the design and installation of a septic system. Septic system design is site-specific in that some sites may host adequate soils and conditions for subsurface wastewater disposal that make septic system design straightforward.

Other sites may present challenges such as a shallow ledge or steep slopes. Wastewater quality also influences a septic system design. Higher strength wastewater may require advanced treatment. Nitrate studies may be required when designing subdivisions or other commercial applications to ensure that wastewater is treated and distributed appropriately on the property. Wastewater disposal services include, but are not limited to:

  • HHE-200 Septic System Applications
  • Septic System Inspections
  • Nitrate Studies
  • Mounding Analysis
  • Overboard Discharge License Renewal
Subsurface Wastewater Disposal Plan
Upper portion of page 3 of the Maine Subsurface Wastewater Disposal System Application for a residential system.

Environmental Assessment

Historical activity on a property can result in unintentional contamination or improper disposal that can lead to increased liability for future owners. These activities can severely handicap a project if they are not disclosed during a real estate transaction or simply lost to history. An environmental scientist can perform a record search to assess the likelihood of possible contamination and subsequently monitor that contamination. If contamination or lack of disposal compliance is likely, the environmental scientist can help oversee proper disposal procedures. Coordination on handling contamination with the proper regulatory agencies is the only responsible way to move a project forward when these issues arise. Environmental assessment services include, but are not limited to:

  • Phase I/II Site Assessments (ESAs, VRAPs)
  • Indoor Air Quality Assessments
  • Underground Storage Tank Removal Assessments
  • Monitoring Well Observations
Soil Samples
Testing for presence of petroleum products in soil samples collected from below an underground storage tank following removal.

Environmental scientists are able to perform a wide variety of services to meet an even wider variety of needs. The scope of services an environmental scientist can offer are only limited by their experience. The above services are by no means exhaustive, as every site may present different challenges.

Want to learn more about Sebago Technics’ environmental services? Contact Mike Jakubowski, Environmental Scientist (207-200-2052) and/or Gary Fullerton, Director of Natural Resources  (207-200-2063) to discuss your project needs.