Chapter Fifteen

Environmental Considerations

Chapter Outline

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Case Study: Wetlands
  • Environmental Protection
  • Environmental Impacts
  • The Good (Bad?) Ole Days
  • Environmental Regulations
  • Environmental Complexity
  • Outro

Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

  1. Explain the need for environmental protection.
  2. Identify potential environmental impacts of infrastructure projects.
  3. Compare current and historical engineering considerations of environmental impacts.
  4. Describe how environmental regulations “drive” infrastructure engineering.
  5. Describe how environmental complexity can lead to unforeseen effects of projects.


Components of the natural environment and of the environmental infrastructure were discussed in Chapters 2 and 5 respectively. The need for a systems perspective was emphasized in Chapter 7. Here we will discuss the integration of the built and natural environments into one system, and investigate the potential environmental impacts of developing the civil infrastructure.

Dramatic changes have occurred over the last four decades with respect to scientific understanding, public opinion, and regulation of the environment. Compared to the nearly complete lack of regulations in the 1960s, engineers are now faced with a dizzying array of regulatory requirements at the local, state, and federal levels. These regulations are typically intended to protect the environment at a cost that society can reasonably bear. ...

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