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Environmental Stewardship: The Foundation of our Work at Waterborne

Posted by Jenn Collins on April 20, 2021

Environmental stewardship centers on the responsibility for environmental quality shared by all those whose actions affect the environment. It is one of the strongest means to a more sustainable future. We believe that stewardship cannot exist without an understanding of and appreciation for our most precious natural resources. Fortunately, our environmental scientists and engineers are able to focus on stewardship activities through their daily work, keeping the importance of their actions to both solving a client’s needs and the environment at the forefront.

Our stewardship work often begins in person. After all, is there a deeper connection formed between scientist and the environment than that built through field work? The fresh (or not so fresh) air, the water, the plant and and animal life, and the soil all bring home the need for responsible environmental practices. Wherever we find ourselves in the world and on whatever project type, this “boots on the ground” sampling, measuring, evaluating, and testing work is, by its very nature, focused on stewardship activities. Our development of novel study designs for assessing agricultural tile-drain chemical transport is a great example of our stewardship efforts in the field. 

Our ecological modeling work applies traditional and novel modeling approaches to investigate runoff, erosion, and drift potential of chemicals in the environment. These stewardship studies are critical to understanding the potential of chemicals entering surface water either from agriculture field activities or from down-the-drain (home and personal care products). By incorporating high quality national databases, including the US EPA’s National Hydrography Dataset Plus (NHDPlus) and estimating worst-case chemical exposure at a watershed scale, we are able to investigate a multitude of scenarios covering a range of environmental variables to determine estimated environmental concentrations across local and regional scales (e.g., river basin, country, and continent). 

Assessing the impact of Best Management Practices (BMPs) set to reduce the potential for agrochemical active ingredients in groundwater and surface water falls soundly within our stewardship goals. By applying geospatial analysis and techniques, we are able to compare BMPs and label specifications to select mapping characteristics. For example, we have used groundwater depth data from state-level monitoring databases in order to develop a map of shallow groundwater locations. By overlying maps of shallow groundwater locations to USDA’s Cropland Data Layer data, we are able to identify any overlapping agricultural soils that may show a potential concern for shallow groundwater. By employing these statistical and geospatial techniques, we’re actively participating in the human health and environmental stewardship of agrochemicals.

Our stewardship work has allowed us to work on some very interesting and environmentally-forward projects. For example, we currently have a team focused on researching the impact of UV blockers from sunscreen products on marine and coral species. This has expanded to evaluating the environmental impact made by other personal care products, including fragrance and cosmetics industries.

One thing is clear, wherever we see a need for environmental stewardship, our team has the passion, skill set, and dedication to lead the way.