The goal of environmental engineering is to ensure that societal development and the use of water, land and air resources are sustainable. This goal is achieved by managing these resources so that environmental pollution and degradation is minimized.

Environmental engineers study water, soil and air pollution problems, and develop technical solutions needed to solve, attenuate or control these problems in a manner that is compatible with legislative, economic, social and political concerns. Civil engineers are particularly involved in such activities as water supply and sewerage, management of surface water and groundwater quality, remediation of contaminated sites and solid waste management.

The activities of such engineers include, but are not limited to, the planning, design, construction and operation of water and wastewater treatment facilities in municipalities and industries, modelling and analysis of surface water and groundwater quality, design of soil and remediation systems, planning for the disposal and reuse of wastewater and sludges, and the collection, transport, processing, recovery and disposal of solid wastes according to accepted engineering practices.

Environmental engineers are called upon to play an important role in environmental protection, because engineering solutions are required to meet the environmental standards set by legislation.

Consulting firms, municipalities, government agencies, industries and non-governmental organizations and specialized contractors are potential employers for civil engineers with a specialization in environmental engineering.