Implementing sustainable civil and environmental engineering practices through thoughtful solutions
Submitted by Tetra Tech
Michael Thatcher is a civil engineering group leader and project manager with Tetra Tech’s Resilient & Sustainable Infrastructure Division. He joined Tetra Tech in 2012 in Marlborough, Massachusetts, before transferring to Orlando, Florida, in 2016. Michael earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Hartford. He also is a registered Professional Engineer in Florida, a certified Construction Documents Technologist, and an Envision Sustainability Professional. Michael oversees a team of engineers and design professionals to implement challenging and innovative projects throughout the southeastern United States.
What inspired you to get into the civil engineering field?
I’ve always been interested in the individual components that work to create a dynamic system. I was first introduced to this field in my high school physics class, where the combination of trigonometry, kinematics, and mechanics all clicked for me. That, combined with my interest in the infrastructure which makes up our everyday world, made the variety of a civil engineering major and career a no-brainer!
While at the University of Hartford, I pitched on the Division I baseball team. When my teammate told me his dad worked for Tetra Tech, I wanted to know more and did some research. After getting to know his dad and learning more about the company, I knew I had to apply, and the rest is history!
What is the most inspirational project you have worked on at Tetra Tech?
Due to its impact on the community, I’d say the most inspirational project I’ve had the pleasure of implementing is the Cypress Street Outfall Regional Stormwater Improvements project for the City of Tampa, Florida. I acted as the project’s design manager and engineer of record for this design-build partnership with Woodruff & Sons.
This project implemented large-scale flood reduction to a 220-acre, highly developed urban watershed to reduce major roadway and property flooding and increase resiliency at both a regional and local level. These improvements included twin eight feet by eight feet reinforced concrete stormwater box culverts; roadway regrading to improve drainage patterns; the design of secondary stormwater collection to capture local flooding before connecting to the regional box culverts; a two-way bicycle track; three miles of sidewalks; the implementation of a 36-inch potable water transmission main; and the relocation of multiple major utilities to facilitate these improvements.
The proposed drainage improvements were designed to capture and convey stormwater runoff for the 25-year/24-hour storm, which has the potential to impound more than 450 cubic feet per second of water to its outfall at the Hillsborough River and Tampa Bay, an impaired waterbody. Our team performed a detailed analysis to better optimize this project’s water quality benefit to limit impacts to the downstream waterbodies. The analysis offers best management practices to aid in increasing water quality through green infrastructure, including pervious pavement, second-generation nutrient separating baffle boxes, inlet skimmers, and grassed swales.
What do you do outside of your work that makes a difference for today’s environment?
I enjoy playing my small part to take care of the environment by recycling, conserving water, and using slow-release fertilizer for our grass and plants at home to aid in the reduction of nutrient runoff. I frequently donate food items and volunteer at the Second Harvest Food Bank in Orlando, Florida.
Are we making progress in creating a better world for ourselves?
Unquestionably, yes! As engineers, we see the potential for positive impacts in everything we do, as well as a stern responsibility to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public.
Tetra Tech is Leading with Science® and on the cutting-edge of providing industry-leading technologies—from successfully completing LEED and Envision-certified green buildings to implementing water reuse projects in drought-impacted areas to providing motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians a safer commute.
More from Tetra Tech