gemma kite, p.e.

Senior Environmental Engineer

Gemma Kite’s experience includes state guidance development, hydrogeologic investigations and modeling, onsite wastewater treatment system management and regulatory framework, watershed planning and assessment, and emergency preparedness training. 

 

Most of us turn on the tap without ever acknowledging what goes into having safe and clean water in our homes whenever we want it.  Let’s all take a moment today to Imagine a Day Without Water and how that would affect our daily lives. We have so many options and conveniences. #ValueWater

Prior to working at Horsley Witten Group, I served in the Peace Corps from 2008-2010 in Konza, Mali, which is a rural community with no running water. When I arrived in the community, only two of the five water pumps were working. Every morning I would strap my two 5-gallon jerry cans to the back of my bicycle, bike to the nearest community water pump, and wait in line for my turn to collect water. Most days, time spent waiting in line was eased by listening to and joining in with the other women swapping jokes and gossip with each other. I was fortunate that I had a bicycle to assist me in carrying the full jerry cans back to my house. Most of the people had to balance their buckets, bowls, and jerry cans on top of their heads being careful not to spill any water on their way home. I conserved water and reduced my use organically since water access was not exactly what I had been used to in the States.

 

What would your day look if you had to walk to access water? According to UNICEF, 207 million people spent over 30 minutes per round trip to collect water from an improved source.

I watched as children would rush each other impatiently to get their water quickly so they wouldn’t be late to school. Women would spend a disproportionate amount of time returning to the pump multiple times throughout the day to provide enough water for their families. The time spent collecting water could be better used to study and do homework, partake in income generating activities, or manage other chores. Without the pump water, residents would turn to other sources of water – like unprotected hand-dug wells or surface water sources also used by livestock.

As I became concerned about the strain on the two functioning pumps, I asked about the three broken pumps and discovered that no one in the community knew how to repair the pumps or where to obtain spare parts. No preventative maintenance was done on the pumps, and no money was collected to  pay for maintenance or repairs. When a pump broke, people walked a little further to collect water from the remaining pumps that did work. I asked what would happen if all the pumps broke, and the elders responded that they would collect a mandatory tax from all households to fix it.

This situation was not sustainable and would eventually result in all the pumps breaking and residents turning to unsafe sources of water. I worked with the community to set-up pump maintenance training for a few community members and purchased a few pump repair tool kits. They would use this new training to serve as pump mechanics for other communities to earn income. I helped to ensure a supply chain of pump spare parts in the nearby city.

Most importantly, I conducted community outreach to educate residents on the importance of a preventative maintenance and the management of a fund to be able to pay for preventative maintenance and repair work.  Malians love to use proverbs to teach lessons, so in order to get the preventative maintenance message across to community members, I likened the water pump to a bicycle: if you do not clean and oil the chain regularly, eventually the bicycle will stop working. After the Peace Corps, I went on to work for an NGO in Sierra Leone and worked with the government to establish a district-wide pump maintenance program, applying my knowledge learned in Konza to a much larger region.

 

JONAS PROCTON

Staff Engineer

Jonas Procton has joined our engineering team as a Staff Engineer. Jonas earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Tufts University, where he focused his studies on River Restoration and Stormwater Management. A former AmeriCorps volunteer, Jonas has spent time constructing trail infrastructure and removing invasive species based out of Asheville, NC. He has supported wilderness orientation groups as a staff leader for the Tufts Wilderness Orientation Group, and is an avid hiker, biker, and rock climber. – We are thrilled to welcome him to  HW!

Jonas works out of our Exeter, NH office.

 

ASHLEY PASAKARNIS, PE

Senior Scientist/Engineer

Ashley Pasakarnis, PE, has joined our team as a Senior Scientist/Engineer. Ashley earned her Master of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering, from the University of Iowa.  She received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Purdue University. She has over 14 years professional experience in environmental and geotechnical consulting. Her areas of specialty include project management and oversight of environmental remediation and transportation projects; design and permitting for site investigation and remedial action activities; and oversight of equipment installation, start-up, operation and maintenance at hydrocarbon and chlorinated impacted sites.  In her free time Ashley enjoys spending time with her husband and two children either tackling a home project or working in the garden.

Ashley works out of our Sandwich, MA office.

 

lucy nisbet

Design Engineer

Lucy Nisbet has joined our engineering team as a Design Engineer. Lucy earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering, with focus work in Hydrology, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  She has over five years professional experience spanning water and wastewater engineering and planning, as well as residential and light commercial structural design. In her free time Lucy enjoys spending time by the water with her two daughters in her hometown of Scituate. Welcome to HW!

Lucy can be reached in our Sandwich office.

lucy nisbet sandwich

 

mike demanche

Environmental Scientist

Recently, Amanda Converse at Ebb and Flow interviewed Mike Demanche who started here as an intern, and joined us full time last year after graduating from Brown University. Mike enjoys the varied tasks of an environmental scientist, especially when it gets him outdoors. An avid hiker his experience on the Appalachian Trail led him to discover his strong interest in environmental science.

“HW projects range in scale from local to national. On any given day I can be involved in projects which stay within the Town of Sandwich or reach out to federal agencies on national issues. Because HW is involved in such a variety of work, we’re able to approach problems in house in a well-rounded fashion. We have scientists, planners, engineers all working in the same space and bringing their perspective to the tasks at hand. These different foci aren’t relegated to specific departments, so most teams within the company involve colleagues with varied backgrounds.”

-Mike Demanche

 

sharing Stormwater benefits

BSLA Conference, Northeastern University

We had a great time at the Boston Society of Landscape Architects Conference! There were many thought-provoking topics covered throughout the day. The unique conference space in the architect studios at Northeastern University created an intimate setting for in-depth discussions with presenters and attendees. Leading a session entitled, “The Wet and Wild World of Constructed Wetlands.” HW’s principal landscape architect Brian Kuchar and water resource engineers, Jennifer Relstab and Michelle West, enjoyed spreading the good news about the benefits of constructed wetlands for stormwater management. They highlighted lessons learned, and success stories of a variety of wetland designs in a range of settings, hoping to inspire more green infrastructure designers to incorporate wetlands into their projects. There was a strong turnout for this session, with standing room only, so hopefully we will start seeing more of our favorite GI practices popping up throughout New England!

 

Fabiola  Alikpokou

MCRP, Staff Planner

Fabiola Alikpokou has joined our planning team as a Staff Planner. Fabiola has a Master’s Degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of NE-Lincoln. She earned two Bachelor of Science degrees in political science and international studies, as well as a certificate in public management from the University of NE-Omaha. Fabiola has experience in both the public and private sectors gathering research and providing analysis for comprehensive plans, corridor studies, and bicycle and pedestrian master plans. Her plate is already full here at HW with assignments related to the Sudbury Master Plan Update, the Canton Master Plan Update, and housing diversity work in Exeter, NH. Fabiola can be reached in our Providence office.

 

Carl Simons, USMC Ret.

Emergency Response Manager

Carl Simons has 30 years of experience in incident management and emergency response, gained through a successful career as an officer in the United States Marine Corps, an All-hazards Planner with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, and an active member of a Type III All Hazards Incident Management Team.

When he is not teaching others about how to plan for natural disasters or emergency threats, Carl volunteers for the Barnstable County All Hazards Incident Management Team. During disasters and emergencies, the resources of local public safety agencies resources can be stretched to the limit as an incident expands in duration, size, scope, or complexity. That’s why the Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee created the Barnstable County All-Hazards Incident Management Team — to provide essential behind-the-scenes support functions enabling agencies to focus resources and concentrate on achieving incident objectives. 

As an emergency response manager for Horsley Witten Group Carl spends a good deal of his time traveling and conducting training exercises for water and utility professionals on topics such as emergency response planning, source water protection, cybersecurity, incident management team training, and active shooter training. Free time is limited for most professionals. Why isn’t Carl on a golf course or fishing in a boat? Carl believes that volunteering for emergency related trainings keeps him up to speed and connected with a variety of responders. “Actually, participating in the exercise vs. explaining in a classroom setting is important as it allows me to share my recent experience with others” said Carl. Sometimes Carl runs into clients or former colleagues which strengthens his relationships and knowledge base. To give you an idea of the time commitment for this type of volunteering, Carl recently spent thirteen hours as a participant in the Vigilant Guard full scale civil military exercise on Cape Cod. At Horsley Witten Group we support volunteerism and training to help our employees be prepared for the next opportunity. We are glad Carl is taking the extra time to become better prepared and you should be too! Thank you, Carl. Learn more about the Barnstable County All Hazards Incident Management Team.

 

 

Ellen Biegert, PLA

Landscape Architect

Ellen Biegert, PLA has joined our design team as a landscape architect in Providence, RI. Ellen brings five years of experience from working in Pennsylvania with a focus on green stormwater infrastructure, parks and trail design, and botanical and children’s gardens. She graduated from Temple University with a BS in Landscape Architecture and is a recipient of a “Best in Show Award” from the Philadelphia Flower Show. Ellen just completed hiking the Appalachian Trail. This experience has allowed her to gain a greater understanding of the impact of natural spaces in the built environment. Ellen can be reached in our Providence office.

Eliza Hoffman

Staff Engineer

Eliza Hoffman has joined our engineering team as a staff engineer based in Sandwich, MA. A recent graduate, Eliza earned her BE from Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. She minored in Environmental Studies and was a Coxswain for the Men’s Varsity Rowing Team. Eliza was awarded a special faculty award for engineering service to humanity for the Hartford Riverwalk Design project. Eliza can be reached in our Sandwich office.