September 14, 2021
Mizzou Engineering’s Kate Trauth has received a prestigious award for significant contributions to the field of watershed management. The Missouri Water Environment Association (MWEA) Stormwater Committee honored Trauth with the 2019 Watershed Management Achievement Award, which was presented this year after last year’s conference was canceled.
Trauth is an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and founder of Infiltronics Environmental, LLC.
Michele Gremminger, a member of the MWEA Stormwater Committee and stormwater management coordinator for the City of O’Fallon, Missouri, nominated Trauth.
“Her many years of teaching and running her own company truly shows her dedication and outstanding commitment to stormwater/watershed management,” Gremminger said. “Her passion for stormwater management and the environment is truly inspiring.”
Left unmanaged, stormwater can wreak havoc on the environment. Not only does it cause erosion issues and flooding, but runoff can also transport pollutants to streams and lakes.
Several years ago, Trauth patented a device that redistributes stormwater and improves soil and water quality. The device is novel in that it mimics natural water flow processes, moving water from a concentrated spot and redistributing it along a property.
“As it’s moving the water, water is sinking down and out the sides, so it’s infiltrating water along the pathway,” Trauth said. “That’s where we have a niche. This device has the ability to snake around and pick up water and redistribute it to soil that can absorb it. The intent is to keep water on site where it belongs.”
To test and commercialize the device, Trauth and her daughter, Ginny, a graduate of civil and environmental engineering at Mizzou, started Infiltronics Environmental, which is now a certified Missouri Women-Owned Business Enterprise.
Trauth has installed the technology at four field test sites in Columbia: Fr. Tolton Catholic High School; two areas at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park; and the Shaw Nature Reserve, an extension of Missouri Botanical Garden.
“Missouri Botanical Garden is a research institution, so we’re happy to partner with them on various projects,” she said.
Over the past several years, Trauth has presented results of those tests — as well as on topics around hydraulics and the importance of modeling — at the MWEA Stormwater/Watershed Conference, Gremminger said.
“She is always happy to stay after and answer any questions anyone has or just continue a discussion on stormwater,” Gremminger said. “Through her commitment to research, teaching and passion for stormwater, she has helped many of us in the stormwater community find ways to grow in our field through transfer of knowledge.”
Trauth is scheduled to present new findings at a stormwater-focused meeting MWEA will host in November in Columbia.
“It’s nice to be part of moving this portion of the profession forward by making technological improvements,” Trauth said.
She is also passionate about sharing her expertise with future generations. At Mizzou Engineering, she is an Inclusivity, Diversity and Equity (IDE) Faculty Fellow and is the founder of the Ada Wilson Green Tea lecture, which celebrates women in engineering during Engineers’ Week.
Trauth hopes accolades such as the MWEA award normalize the fact that women are successful engineers.
“It’s very gratifying to be recognized,” she said. “I hope young women see that you can be a mom and a civil engineer and a business owner and know that they can do it, too.”