Why I’m passionate about my job | Meet Lori Gates

As a senior resource planner, Lori is responsible for environmental assessments, studies, and regulatory compliance for water resources and environmental projects. She works closely with clients on municipal, construction and industrial storm water quality projects and permits to help them maintain compliance with the NPDES stormwater permit program. In addition to mastering all things MS4-related, Lori lends her expertise by leading training sessions as well as taking part in developing certification programs for other planning professionals. She also enjoys volunteering for a variety of organizations, including the Tippecanoe County Partnership for Water Quality Field Day during which she teaches children about what insects they can eat. Lori has built solid relationships with regulatory agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, and Indiana Department of Natural Resources, which keeps her at the forefront of regulation and rule updates and changes. Below, Lori tells us what she loves most about her job and why you wouldn’t want her to be an Indiana river!

1. What are you most passionate about in this job?

The people. I get to work with some really great folks on a regular basis! It is such a pleasure to do work for and connect with people that really appreciate what you do for them. We work with some whose goal is to be “the leader in the state” with their stormwater programs and others who can only afford a “bare bones” approach. Either way, being able to help others by sharing our expertise is truly rewarding.

2. Other people don’t find this exciting, so why do you?

WHAT?! Other people don’t believe in WORLD STORMWATER DOMINATION?! I envision a world where everyone embraces stormwater quality and water quality protection. It should come as naturally as not littering or eating breakfast. Over the years, I have seen the stormwater quality industry grow very rapidly and it is very exciting to be part of it. Our goal is to keep improving the quality of the water in our streams and rivers by chipping away, bit by bit, at those things we can do to protect and enhance our waters. Stormwater carries pollutants to these waterbodies so anything we can do to prevent and remove those pollutants is beneficial. Our water resources are limited and very precious so everyone needs to do their part to help protect them.

3. Why is working for Burke different than anywhere else?

Again, it comes down to the people. I am very proud to work with great colleagues who constantly dazzle me with their knowledge, experience and dedication to a job well done. It is such a privilege to be part of such a great team!

4. How long have you been doing your thing?

A LONG time! In stormwater quality language, it would be right after Phase I and several years before Phase II! Before this job, I was the Stormwater Coordinator at IDEM and worked on their NPDES stormwater construction, municipal, and industrial permit programs. Before that I worked for Indy Parks as an Environmental Educator where I got to do talks with a red-tailed hawk and cook insects.

5. What, in your opinion, is the most important take away for your clients?

To not panic about complying with NPDES permit regulations and laws. Most communities or businesses do not take credit for activities they are already doing that can be counted towards permit compliance. In some cases, if they have gaps in their programs and/or have fallen behind, we can come up with a solution to meet their short- and long-term goals. If they are facing an IDEM audit, we can help with that too! They can rely on us to guide them through.

6. If you could be any natural feature, what would you be and why?

I would be a clear, spring-fed river in Indiana because they are very rare and highly valued! I would also include some gnarly waves and tight turns to challenge would-be paddlers, also known sometimes as “unintended swimmers!”