Case Studies

Environmental Quality Resources LLC

Combining construction with science to benefit ecosystems

Carter McCamy founded Environmental Quality Resources LLC (EQR) in 1991 as an environmental specialty contractor. Initially, the focus of the business was helping developers achieve permit and mitigation goals. Over the years, the company’s focus has shifted from the private market into the public market. Today, EQR has grown to become the largest open-bid environmental contractor in the Mid-Atlantic United States.

Liam O’Meara, general manager, has been involved with environmental construction for many years and joined EQR in July 2013. O’Meara oversees a team of approximately 150 people performing environmental enhancement services across the country. The company’s headquarters is in Millersville, Md., with two satellite yards in-state. EQR’s crews have worked as far away as Montana and Texas, although most of the company’s work is in Maryland and northern Virginia.

EQR’s services include a wide range of rehabilitation and enhancement projects. The company has performed extensive stream restoration, wetlands mitigation, stormwater management and low impact development work, among other unique undertakings.

“We have a niche that we excel in,” says O’Meara. “Our wetland experience is one aspect that makes us stand out. When developers impact streams and wetlands, often those systems are damaged in the process. We work to mitigate that damage by creating new functioning aquatic systems. A majority of what we do now is stream enhancement to offset human-caused damages of the past. We rehabilitate existing streams to improve the ecosystem, protect adjacent properties and improve floodplain stormwater capacity.”

A growing portfolio

Approximately 90 percent of the firm’s work is for public entities, with the remaining 10 percent comprised of private work for clients such as commercial developers. In recent years, the team has been busy with a diverse range of projects at home in Maryland, as well as around the country.

A major source of revenue over the last few years has come in through the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) through environmental work associated with the Inter-County Connector (Md. Rt. 200). The team is wrapping up the last two of several projects for the authority in early 2014.

“Our work on the Inter-County Connector has involved stream restoration, native plant landscaping and wetland mitigation,” O’Meara elaborates. “We performed one of the biggest stream restoration projects ever completed: 2 miles long.”

An emerging area of interest in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and for EQR, is legacy sediments. The region has changed geographically due to several waves of deforestation and soil loss over the last 300 years. In addition, hundreds of mill dams were built in the valleys, which created ponds and trapped the water used for mills.

“The mills were around for a very long time, all the while trapping sediment behind the dams,” O’Meara continues. “These streams were buried in as much as 10 feet of sediment that is now delivering nutrient pollution to the bay. So now there are two options: we could excavate and use the old streams or we could raise the streams and connect them to the existing flood plain. Ideally, we would do removal but that’s more expensive so we raised them.”

The crew is also currently working on a large steam restoration project at Baltimore Washington International Airport. The development of the airport over the years had damaged an adjacent tributary to the Patapsco River. The restoration being executed by EQR comprises Maryland Aviation Authority’s largest environmental project to-date. EQR also recently landed a $4 million contract with the Maryland Transit Authority for mitigation of White Marsh Run in Baltimore County to mitigate for the environmental impacts from improvements to I-95.

O’Meara says some of the most memorable projects for his team have been trout habitat construction out West. “We went to Montana, Colorado and Wyoming to build trout habitat,” he explains. “There are many landowners who have streams on their properties. For a lot of them old ranching operations ruined the streams and habitats for brook trout, brown trout and rainbow trout. We have worked with engineers to recreate the ideal trout habitat. It is really cool that these landowners are willing to invest in streams to fish into the future.”

Natural growth

With a strong portfolio and diverse capabilities, EQR has been growing steadily for more than 20 years. A major part of the business’ success is relationships. While the company performs a majority of work in-house, the team relies on a network of reliable strategic partners and subcontractors. These partners include surveyors, concrete contractors and utility contractors.

The company’s greatest challenge has just been keeping up with changing EPA requirements. Many of the company’s clients have faced tight time constraints on their environmental projects. Therefore, EQR must respond with a proper allocation of crews and equipment to meet such schedules. Fortunately, EQR has the manpower and expertise to meet these demands, but the logistics can be challenging under such demanding time constraints.

According to O’Meara, EQR is quickly becoming the nation’s leading environmental contractor. O’Meara is incredibly proud of his team and EQR’s commitment to the specialized tasks at hand, each day improving environmental systems. “Financial success and client satisfaction are hugely important to us as a business,” he explains, “But our greatest indicator of performance is that our projects improve the ecosystem.” The business continues to grow, but no matter how large Environmental Quality Resources LLC gets, the team remains committed to environmental preservation and restoration.

Published on: July 21, 2014

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