Libby Ford, QEP, CHMM, CEP

Libby Ford, senior environmental health engineer and a member of the Energy and Environmental practice group, works with her clients on various aspects of water quality, facility siting and permitting, wastewater and drinking water compliance, site investigation, remediation and/or demolition, wastewater treatment including industrial pretreatment and the technical aspects of environmental negotiation.

What do you focus on?

Water Permitting and Compliance

I often lead the water permitting and water quality protection aspects of new facility permitting, major expansions and permit renewals. My focus is obtaining workable permits that comply with requirements but which allow my clients to retain as much flexibility as possible over the 5 to 10 year life of the permit. I also work with my clients, their attorneys and technical consultants to put together and implement long-term water-related compliance strategies, especially around such complex issues as drinking water quality, cooling water intakes and discharges, wet weather management and nutrient reduction.

Power Plant Decommissioning, Demolition, Deconstruction and Remediation

I am currently working on multiple coal-fired power plant sales, decommissioning, demolition and/or remediation projects, including two of the largest (and first) in the Northeast. In addition to taking the lead on obtaining environmental permits and the water-related aspects of these projects, I focus on making sure the technical specifications and the contract language are consistent with each other and are being implemented as written.

Site Investigation and Remediation

These projects can drag on for decades unless they are well planned and their mountains of data understood and then presented in a manner that shows that the remedial objectives have been met, or that the site is as clean as is reasonably practical. Together with Nixon Peabody attorneys, I work with clients and their technical consultant at all phases to make sure the technical “case” is made, well documented and communicated.

What do you see on the horizon?

Water as a resource and a necessary component of virtually every industry and institution is becoming an increasingly critical aspect of their future success. As the relatively new administration in the United States makes significant changes to existing regulations, policies and application procedures, I see increased delays but also opportunities to reduce application and compliance time and costs. On another front, drinking water quality issues will continue to garner public and political attention with litigation threats being heightened.

Professional Development

Libby was previously employed as an engineer with an environmental consulting firm where she was primarily involved in preparing environmental impact statements. She also assisted the Rochester Institute of Technology as it set up its Masters in Environmental, Health and Safety Management. She then taught within this program as an adjunct professor for several years. Libby has on going attendance at numerous short courses and seminars, often as a presenter or instructor. She has received a number of professional certifications (listed below) as well as awards and other recognitions from various professional organizations. Ms. Ford has also served on a number of agency and educational institution advisory boards.

Wastewater and Water Quality

Libby works with clients to identify and resolve a broad range of water-related issues including: S/NPDES permitting and investigating alleged violations of S/NPDES permits and developing corrective actions, technical explanations and/or defenses for same. In addition to traditional S/NPDES issues, she works with clients and their chemical suppliers to get approval of their use and discharge of “Water Treatment Chemicals,” residuals of which may end up discharged to surface or groundwaters. Libby has been involved in conceptual discussions of wastewater treatment for shale gas and other hydraulic fracturing wastewater, with a specific focus on how management and treatment of this wastewater is or will be regulated and what level of effluent quality is needed depending on the end use of the treated wastewater (reuse in hydraulic fracturing, discharge to the environment etc.).

With the legionella and lead related drinking water situation in Flint Michigan and the discovery of perflurocarbon compounds in drinking water elsewhere, the public has lost faith in the quality of the water coming out of their taps. Lawsuits have been initiated accusing schools, childcare facilities, municipalities, hotels, cruise ship lines and others of everything from hiding information to supplying water that caused bodily harm and even death. Libby works mainly with building owners and institutions who supply municipal or other “potable” water to their tenants, students, employees and others when a question as to their drinking water quality has been raised. Typically working with a Nixon Peabody attorney, a client team and one or more outside experts, Libby’s focus is to ensure that the technical aspects of the investigation and any remedial actions are consistent with best practices and legal requirements while minimizing the risk to her client.

Libby has coordinated the work done by a team consisting of the utility’s corporate environmental staff, its plant level environmental and operations staff and an outside environmental technical consultant involving a detailed engineering and environmental review of thermal discharge alternatives for the power plant’s once through cooling thermal discharge. She prepared the DEIS scoping statement and essentially coordinated the team which prepared the F/DEIS.

Environmental Impact Assessments

Coordinated and prepared or reviewed environmental impact assessments and environmental impact statements. Lead or coauthor of Environmental Assessments or Impact Statements on:

  • Prepared, with input from the client and technical consultants the State environmental assessment forms for two different closed power plants which were undergoing hazardous material abatement, demolition and site restoration.
  • The EIS scoping document and preliminary sections on alternatives and project need for an alternate cooling water discharge system for a 990 MW oil-fired power plant.
  • Conversion of a stream electric power plant from oil to coal.
  • Black fly and mosquito control programs in Northern New York (including a Supplemental EIS that examined an additional chemical pesticide).
  • Expansion of an existing sand and gravel operation to include blasting and consolidated material mining (including a Subsequent EIS prepared for related rezoning).
  • Proposed municipal collection sewer systems.

Resolution of Environmental Technical Conflicts

It is not unusual for qualified technical experts to disagree as to the cause and/or the effects of an environmental issue. Such disputes can block the resolution of broader conflicts (such as between current and past property owners or between a permit applicant and the permitting agency). Libby draws on more than forty years of tackling and resolving these issues, allowing the broader conflict to be subsequently resolved. Trained as a mediator, Libby has applied her science, engineering and her experience working with the legal and regulatory community to help resolve technical questions. Past successes include:

  • Reviewing reports by environmental experts to verify that their conclusions are supported by the underlying facts, and evaluating whether there are other/alternative conclusions supported by the facts.
  • Clarifying the viewpoints of two hydrogeologists as to groundwater flow dynamics, allowing a common interpretation to be developed and integrated into a report supporting the application for a new power generation facility.
  • Identifying a pattern of inconsistent legionella analytical results and raising questions that led to the laboratory reviewing its records and withdrawing the results.
  • Working with technical experts to craft effective affidavits or testimony by identifying the legal arguments which need technical support and then structuring the affidavit or testimony to support the legal case.
  • Serving as the coordinator of a Science Advisory Board set up as part of the settlement of a citizen suit. She helped craft consensus statements at the end of each meeting which provided technical suggestions and statements of concern to the electric utility which convened the Advisory Board.
  • Coordinating the preparation of comments on draft regulations, policy etc. by the diverse members of an environmental technical professional organization while insuring that the final comments were based on sound science and were fully representative of interested members of the organization.

Professional Certifications, Registrations and Clearances

  • Qualified Environmental Professional Certification #1194040 (Specialty Area: Water)
  • Hazardous Materials Manager—Master Level (CHMM #816)
  • Certified Environmental Professional—Environmental Documentation (Certification #02112)

Advisory Committees

  • NY Department of Environmental Conservation Water Advisory Committee (1987–1993)
  • Monroe County (NY) Department of Health Environmental Health Advisory Committee (1987 to 1991)
  • Rochester Institute of Technology Advisory Board for the Masters in Environmental Health and Safety Management Program (1996–1997 and 2007–2009, 2011–2012)
  • University of Kansas Continuing Environmental Education and Training Center National Advisory Board (1993–1995)

Publications and Seminars

Libby has published and lectured on a wide range of environmental technical, regulatory and policy issues in such forums as Law 360, Water, Environment & Technology, Clearwaters and The Practical Lawyer. A partial list of publications and recent lectures is available upon request.

New York seeks constitutional right to clean air and water

Rochester Business Journal | April 09, 2021

Rochester Affordable Housing & Real Estate associate Sarah Lobe and senior environmental health engineer Libby Ford contributed this article on the proposed environmental rights amendment to the Bill of Rights of the New York State Constitution, on which New Yorkers will vote in November.

Undefining ‘WOTUS’

Water Environment & Technology | November 26, 2019

This article features analysis by Rochester senior environmental health engineer Libby Ford on a proposed replacement rule that would restrict the federal government’s jurisdiction over waterways under the Clean Water Act.

How new state laws will affect power plant closure costs

Law360 | June 05, 2019

Affordable Housing and Real Estate partner Bruce Baker and Senior Environmental Health Engineer Libby Ford, both of the Rochester office, co-wrote this contributed article on how state legislatures are addressing the future of decommissioned, coal-fired power plants.

How should discharges to groundwater be regulated?

Rochester Business Journal | November 22, 2018

Rochester Corporate partner Jeremy Wolk wrote this contributed column on recent cases involving the Clean Water Act and discharges to groundwater, drawing from an alert by San Francisco partner Alison Torbitt, Albany associate Dana Stanton and senior environmental health engineer Libby Ford, all of the Affordable Housing & Real Estate group.

How should discharges to groundwater be regulated?

Rochester Business Journal | November 22, 2018

Rochester Corporate partner Jeremy Wolk wrote this contributed column on recent cases involving the Clean Water Act and discharges to groundwater, drawing from an alert by San Francisco partner Alison Torbitt, Albany associate Dana Stanton and senior environmental health engineer Libby Ford, all of the Affordable Housing & Real Estate group.


Libby Ford, QEP, CHMM, CEP

Senior Environmental Health Engineer


Phone: 585-263-1606

Fax: 585-263-1600

University of Notre Dame, M.S., Environmental Engineering

University of Notre Dame, B.S., Biology, with honors

  • NYWEA Public Education Award, 2015
  • Water Environment Federation Fellow, 2012
  • NYWEA Jane Ork Governmental Affairs Award, 2010
  • NYWEA Hall of Fame Awardee, February 2003
  • Arthur Sidney Bidell Award (Water Environment Federation, 2001)
  • John Chester Brigham Award (New York Water Environment Association, 1986)
  • Service Awards (Water Environment Federation, 1980–83, 1986–89, 1991–94)
  • “Thanks” Award (Girl Scouts of Genesee Valley, 1984, 1987, 1996)
  • American Board of Industrial Hygiene 
  • Water Environment Federation (several committees)
  • New York Water Environment Association (committees and Chapter)
  • National Association of Environmental Professionals
  • Institute of Professional Environmental Practice (Past President, Board of Trustees and Chair, Exam Committee)
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