Water may flow out of faucets to fill up our glasses, our bathtubs and our recreational activity calendar — but it is never a given. “People don’t respect water enough because it’s so cheap,” said Christine Ballard, an engineer with T&M Associates.
“But we’re still in a triage point of reconstruction after Sandy. … You open up the ground and you don’t know what you’re going to find.”
Ballard would know. As group manager in the Water Resources Department at the Middletown-based firm — a $54 million engineering, planning and environmental consulting operation — she is on the front lines of the effort to repair the infrastructure of towns hit hard by the 2012 storm.
In Point Pleasant Beach, for example, Ballard said there are still frequent dirty water complaints.
“People don’t think about how the water moves around in the piping network — and how the loss of homes can change the way the water moves,” she said.
But while Ballard’s work is one of the many reasons she has been selected to this year’s NJBIZ Forty Under 40 list, it isn’t what she always wanted to do.
Ballard, 34, actually thought she’d be designing roller coasters.
After graduating from Clemson University with a degree in mechanical engineering, however, Ballard was hired by T&M Associates in 2003.
“T&M offers diversity in the type of work that you can do,” Ballard said.
“You have opportunities to (work on) water, roads, bridges, drainage, etc. — and you work for the full lifecycle of the project.”
For 11 years, Ballard has had the opportunity to “see her sketches come to life” after planning, budgeting, designing and overseeing construction and inspection of everything from water treatment plants to sewage collection systems.