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A drainage engineer is a skilled civil engineer who specializes in creating blueprints and implementing improvements for water drainage systems. A professional may specialize in directing rainwater runoff from highways and roads, controlling irrigation and flooding on farmlands, or diverting sewage and pollution away from water sources. Many engineers spend significant amounts of time at construction sites to oversee the building or maintenance of a structure. A drainage engineer might work for a municipal government, private consulting firm, or a nonprofit environmental organization.
Effective drainage systems are necessary to prevent flooding, conserve resources, and ensure that water reserves do not become tainted with chemicals. A drainage engineer is consulted to design an effective method of controlling water. He or she usually visits a site to decide what type of system is needed, then returns to an office to create a blueprint. Many engineers rely on computer-aided drafting (CAD) software to help them design and simulate structures and ditches. They use their expert knowledge of physics, fluidity, and math to design new systems and improve existing ones.
While conceptualizing a system, an engineer must consider how much it will cost to build, the potential negative environmental impacts it may have, its aesthetic qualities, and local laws regarding construction. Engineers perform careful calculations to determine the costs of materials and labor, and estimate how long it will take to finish a project. They are frequently involved in acquiring the funding and labor necessary to implement large-scale projects.
It is common for a drainage engineer to be very involved with the on-site construction of his or her design. A professional often works closely with site supervisors and construction workers to ensure that systems are built and ditches are dug to exact specifications. Upon the completion of a project, the drainage engineer typically inspects area and considers any final touches that may add to the aesthetics or functionality of a system.
A bachelor's degree or higher in civil engineering is usually the basic requirement to becoming a drainage engineer. Many people choose to pursue master's degrees in specialized programs that focus on the principles of water management and drainage systems design. Most states and countries require new engineers to obtain certification or licensure by passing written exams related to legal matters, the fundamentals of drainage engineering, and safety precautions. Once an engineer has gained certification, he or she typically works as an assistant for several months or even years to gain the experience necessary to eventually manage entire projects.