Environmental Engineering is essential for development of facilities for protection of the environment and for proper management of natural resources. The environmental engineer places special attention on the biological, chemical and physical reactions in the air, land, and water environments and on improved technology for integrated management systems, including reuse, recycling and recovery measures.
Environmental engineering began with society's needs for safe drinking water and management of liquid and solid wastes. Urbanisation and industrialisation significantly contributed to the formation of unsanitary conditions in many areas. The term 'public health' and 'sanitary' were first applied to those engineers seeking solutions to the elimination of waterborne disease in the 1800s. More recently, abatement of air and land contamination became new challenges for the environmental engineer. Today, management of toxic and hazardous wastes are additional focus areas.
Traditionally, environmental engineers drew their basic education and training from civil engineering programs. In order to broaden their perspective and capabilities, contemporary environmental engineers pursue course work and postgraduate training in professional areas including biology, chemical engineering, chemistry, and hydrology. Since the environmental engineer is now dealing with sensitive public issues, training in public education, public policy and other social sciences is desirable.