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Jones Edmunds & Associates

Water and Wastewater Engineering Firm Has All the Infrastructure Work It Can Handle

As a young consulting civil engineer, Dr. Richard Jones was visiting a wastewater belt filter press system in Munich, Germany for a client when he met Robert Edmunds, also visiting the filter press. The two found they were kindred spirits and became fast friends. Not an amazing situation, until you consider that both men came to Germany from Gainesville, Florida, where each lived after doing graduate work at the University of Florida.

Jones and Edmunds shared professional philosophies and a desire to start a consulting firm. So in 1974, within a year of their return to the states, the two young engineers founded Jones Edmunds & Associates, Inc. in Gainesville.

For the first 15 years of its life, Jones Edmunds & Associates grew steadily while focusing on water and wastewater treatment and environmental sciences. Clients included the City of Jacksonville, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and many of the state's citrus fruit processors, as Jones was a well-known expert in that area. In the 1980s, the firm gained national prominence in forensic analysis of pre-stressed concrete pipelines as Edmunds led investigations of numerous failures. These led to the company's first office expansion to Tampa Bay in 1989.

Through the 1990s, Jones Edmunds added technical capabilities and office locations to serve its growing clientele. A subsidiary firm, JEA Construction Engineering Services, came into the fold to serve the Florida Department of Transportation.

Today, Jones Edmunds thrives as a multidisciplinary consulting firm providing services in engineering, architecture, and environmental sciences. It consists of more than 290 employees with headquarters in Gainesville and four other offices in Florida. Ken Vogel, P.E., corporate marketing director, says the common theme of their myriad types of work is infrastructure. "We're well rounded," as he puts it.

Clients range from the private sector to government agencies, including counties, federal, local municipalities, and the state. They have worked in nearly every county in Florida. Federal government clients include agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Unlike other booming engineering firms that typically expand to cover large regions or the entire country, Jones Edmunds has stayed strictly in the Sunshine State. Why? It goes beyond fun in the sun and playing on sandy white beaches. "The growth in Florida keeps us busy," Vogel explains. "There's a lot of work for us to do. When it comes to water and wastewater, a lot of the systems are getting old. They need to be replaced or upgraded. Keeping up with all that kind of work is a challenge, but we also look at it as an opportunity to continue to grow."

As Vogel implies, water and wastewater systems continue as the core of the firm's work. In water systems, this consists of designing treatment plants, pump stations, piping systems, and instrumentation (SCADA) systems for monitoring water works. Wastewater systems work involves planning and designing systems for the collection, treatment, and disposal of wastewater and sludge and for the treatment, pumping, and distribution of reclaimed water.

A signature project came in the form of the Water Blending Facility in Pinellas County. This implemented a blending and chemical treatment facility to improve water quality in the Pinellas County Water System after converting to chloramine disinfection in 2002. Drinking water comes from Tampa Bay Water, the local utility, via groundwater, surface water, and a desalinization plant. Blending these disparate sources causes widely varying water quality. The facility will have a design capacity of 111 million gallons per day (MGD), with key components including two 10-million-gallon blending tanks, chemical feed and mixing facilities for six chemicals, and a 120-MGD pumping station with two 10-million-gallon ground storage reservoirs.

In conjunction with its work in water treatment, Jones Edmunds develops water resources and supplies. Engineers work with scientists and GIS (geographic information systems) specialists on watershed management studies, aquifer storage and recovery, and groundwater modeling. With in-house GIS, GPS (global positioning system), and CADD (computer-aided design and drafting) capabilities, the firm integrates GIS with water resources analysis and design.

GIS is nothing new to Jones Edmunds, as the firm has provided such services for over a decade. "We have standalone GIS projects as well as those that are part of other wastewater, water, and water resource projects," Vogel states. They have 20 people dedicated to GIS, including civil and environmental engineers, environmental scientists, geographers, surveyors, and programmers. "It's been a growing field, especially with some of the mandates from the state and federal level to create asset management systems. GIS is playing a big role in those types of projects." He refers to GASB-34, a federal mandate for cities and counties to document what their infrastructure includes, such as roads and signage.

Environmental work at Jones Edmunds takes several tacks. Staff members monitor compliance, assess contaminated sites, and devise plans for remediation and stream restoration. In efforts to prevent pollution at facilities, they develop ways to reduce the volume and toxicity of hazardous waste generated, reduce raw materials use, and cut energy consumption in operations.

An integral part of environmental work, especially in Florida, comes in the form of wetlands. Jones Edmunds offers comprehensive wetland services from planning and design through implementation and permitting. According to Vogel, an environmental engineer, "We're always looking for innovative ways to use wetlands. We're not always trying to destroy them, but we're trying to keep them there and use them in storm water systems, for example, and for reuse potential for wastewater. There are lots of innovative things we can do with wetlands."

As another sector interwoven with environmental and infrastructure work, Jones Edmunds designs systems for collecting, recycling, and disposing of solid waste. Facilities for doing this include landfills, transfer stations, residential collection centers, materials recycling facilities, and composting facilities. In developing landfills, they design bottom liners, leachate management systems, and final closure covers. When a landfill becomes full and closes, they devise ways of using the land.

During their operational life, landfills generate methane gas, which must be collected for use or disposed of. Jones Edmunds received a Project of the Year award from the Florida Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers for its Landfill Gas-to-Energy Project in Alachua County. In partnership with the county and Gainesville Regional Utilities, the project captures methane gas and uses it to generate electricity for distribution to the community.

The mantra of infrastructure covers many things in the engineering world, and the list of Jones Edmunds' services goes on. Under the heading of transportation, this means roadway, trail, and bike path design. Civil engineers engage in areas such as site grading and drainage, parking, paving, sidewalks, access roads, and geotechnical evaluations. Structural engineering covers foundations, mid-rise and low-rise buildings, and building renovations. Architects get into the act with architectural design, building modifications, and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance. Mechanical engineering involves energy analysis and life cycle costing, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, fire protection and plumbing systems, and process-related systems. Electrical and communications engineering covers power transmission and distribution lines, emergency power storage and generation, lighting, communications, fire alarm systems, and security systems. As a U.S. Green Building Council member, the firm has many LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy Efficient Design) architects and engineers on staff.

Of course, having all these disciplines and services relating to infrastructure means extensive construction to build everything engineers design. The firm's construction division supports clients through construction as well as startup and operation. Construction engineers review designs for constructability during the design process prior to construction.

It becomes obvious that increasing population and development bring engineering challenges in Florida. Vogel predicts, "The big topic coming up is water needs -- water sources, where they're going to come from. There will be plenty of regional fighting over who gets what water. It's already starting in different areas of the state." He doesn't need to add that it also brings opportunities for companies like Jones Edmunds, with its foundation in water and wastewater engineering.


Snapshot

Company: Jones Edmunds & Associates

Type: Multidisciplinary engineering and architecture firm focusing on infrastructure

Location: Headquarters in Gainesville, Florida with other offices in Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, and Titusville

Website: www.jonesedmunds.com

Types of engineers they use: Civil, environmental, electrical, mechanical, and structural

Outlook for hiring engineers: Ken Vogel, P.E., corporate marketing director, says, "We're looking to hire at all levels, entry level through senior level. We're looking to increase staff in each of our offices." He indicates they're hiring an even mix of disciplines.

Contact information for submitting resumes: Submit by e-mail to Billie Sturgeon, recruiting coordinator, at bsturgeon@jonesedmunds.com


Progressive Engineer
Editor: Tom Gibson
2820 Mexico Rd., Milton, PA 17847
570-713-4812 * tom@progressiveengineer.com
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