Doug H. Olson – WCW Member Profile

Working-in-Water-logoWCW Member Profile – Doug H. Olson

Doug H. OlsonName: Doug H. Olson P.Eng.
Position: Senior Vice-President for AE’s Water Practice
Organization: Associated Engineering
Born and Raised: Outlook, Saskatchewan


I attended the University of Saskatchewan and obtained a Bachelor of Science in (Agricultural) Engineering with an added blend of courses from Civil Engineering including water treatment, hydraulic structures, and construction management.

I have attended, participated and presented at a number of technical seminars throughout my career hosted by AWWA, WRF, CWWA and WCW that covered various water treatment, residuals management topics, and climate change adaptation.

History in the industry and as a WCW member

I grew up alongside the South Saskatchewan River, Gardner Dam and South Saskatchewan East Side Irrigation District and have always had an affinity for water. I originally pursued a degree in Agricultural Engineering with an interest in designing water resource and irrigation systems, however, I expanded my course load to include a number of water supply and treatment courses from the civil engineering department and process control from the mechanical department.

I was looking for employment with consulting companies that worked in both irrigation and water supply and was fortunate to be offered a summer position with Associated Engineering (AE) as a site inspector for the construction of a large water treatment plant expansion in southern Saskatchewan servicing Regina and Moose Jaw. It was that early hands on-site experience that sparked my process interests. After completing my final year at U of S in the late 80’s, I was hired full time with AE and worked on an array of water conveyance, hydraulic structures, pump stations and pipelines for irrigation systems that lead me to southern Alberta.

I was lucky that our Lethbridge office manager at the time (Ian Wright) also had a passion for water treatment and process controls and took me under his wing to train me as a water treatment engineer. I was fortunate that the timing was ripe through the 90’s with tightening drinking water regulations and growing communities that led to a number of plant upgrades and expansions. My first plant design was a slow sand filter, followed by increasingly larger and advanced treatment systems including process upgrades in Lethbridge, a full conventional treatment plant expansion in Medicine Hat (later followed by integrating UV disinfection), the first large scale (28 ML/d) DAF clarification system in Alberta, two of the first immersed UF membrane filtration retrofits in western Canada, one of the largest onsite generation sodium hypochlorite systems in Canada and ultimately leading the design upgrades for the water treatment plants upgrade program and residuals treatment facilities for the City of Calgary.

I joined WCW and AWWA as a member in the mid-1990’s and have been an active member participating in annual conferences, technical seminars, and committees. I have also presented at AWWOA and SWWA technical seminars and am a current member of the AWWA Water Treatment Facility Design and Construction Committee.

I have always enjoyed reading the articles in the Western Canada Magazine about our members’ involvement in local water system enhancements and innovative solutions.

Typical day

In my role as a Technical Vice President for our Water Practice across the company, my days are a blend of providing direction and support on proposals, technical guidance and quality assurance on various projects, coaching and mentoring staff, and being called upon by staff (and clients) seeking reference information on various past projects that we have undertaken. Those which I can’t remember anymore are either archived or stowed on my office bookshelves (and those left behind by my predecessor).

Job Satisfaction

The variety in a day’s work and being involved with projects and our staff across the company. As a member of our executive management team and a shareholder of an employee-owned company, I feel the knowledge and effort that I contribute on a day-to-day basis adds to the success of our company and the added value we bring to our clients and the communities that we live and work in.

Main challenges

There are days (or periods) when I find it difficult to manage my own time to achieve personal objectives. With requests for input spanning time zones from eastern time to pacific time some days can feel like an endless day, however, it’s hard to say no when you enjoy what you do and you know you are helping someone else meet their deadline.


I believe it is important for young engineers to experience all aspects of project delivery early in their career, particularly design review meetings with clients and construction inspection and construction management. This allows you to appreciate the importance understanding the client’s objectives and what details and aspects of a design are important to achieve a successful project for all those involved.  You can then build on that experience and tailor your career down a path that provides you with the greatest satisfaction in your day-to-day work.

Time away from work

My recreational time away from work still involves various forms of water, from skiing on fresh powder or hiking up in our watersheds to enjoying lake water sports and beach activities with my wife and 3 daughters.