Ask the Expert: Craig Drennan, PE

Craig DrennanCraig Drennan is a Water Resources Engineer with a broad range of experience covering hydrologic and hydrodynamic modeling, stormwater and green infrastructure design, environmental restoration and remediation, and climate resiliency.

When he’s not working, you can find him in the forest with his camera or trying out new recipes in his kitchen.

What do you find most rewarding about the work that you do?

Knowing that the designs I develop help to improve the habitat and ecology where I work. Many of the sites that I work at tend to be contaminated or hazardous, and I really enjoy watching a site evolve over the course of a project. These changes can be obvious or subtle—from watching riverbank plantings become established, to the benthic habitat layer being installed on a remedial cap—the ability to actively improve site habitat is the most rewarding.

What are you currently working on?

Currently, I am working on several multi-party superfund projects. At one, I am conducting remedial cap modeling to assess treatability options for a major industrial plant that is bordering a waterway. At another, I am supporting our client group in high-level conceptual discussions with regulators in an effort to develop a contaminated waste site into a large, constructed wetland restoration complex.

How can our clients benefit from this service/particular innovation?

Nature-based solutions offer sustainable and resilient alternatives to many “gray infrastructure” techniques historically relied upon by engineers. Riverbanks can be stabilized using deep-rooted vegetation instead of riprap; brownfields can be turned into parks that provide flood storage capacity; constructed wetlands and rain gardens can be a sustainable treatment alternative to detention ponds or settling tanks.

While the initial design cost may be higher, these nature-based solutions tend to require less O&M costs in the long run while providing similar (or more) resilience to extreme events. These practices can also play a vital role in Natural Resource Damage (NRD) negotiations or community relations at project sites.

When you were 10 years old, what did aspire to do for a career?

Paleontologist! Growing up in South Florida, you could find fossils in the limestone all over the place. I had a fantastic collection of ancient shells, corals, and other marine life.

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