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  • who we are

    Wallace Group is a reflection of the communities we serve. We are neighbors, family members, active volunteers, professionals and leaders in our business and personal communities. We believe in contributing and we have a commitment to the long-term health and viability of our built environment.

  • what we do

    We are service oriented professionals in Civil & Transportation Engineering, Construction Management, Landscape Architecture, Mechanical Engineering, Planning, Public Works Administration, Surveying / GIS Solutions and Water Resources. We understand the importance of thoughtful collaboration in order to deliver meaningful, elegant and cost-effective planning, design and engineering solutions for the needs of our community.

  • why we do it

    Since our founding in 1984, our focus and passion has centered on the personal side of business. We value our partnerships; we believe in earning trust and work diligently to demonstrate integrity, fairness and reliability to our clients and amongst our staff. At Wallace Group we love what we do and the value it provides to people. Our work reflects our Dedication to Service and results in high value services and-quality products for our clients and our built environment.

the latest news

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01/ 26/ 2015
Water. Most of us take it for granted. We simply turn on the faucet and out it comes. Yet, many parts of the world lack access to safe, clean and readily available water. With its headquarters in San Luis Obispo, Lifewater International’s mission is to provide safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene training to areas of the world that lack access to it. Many of these locations are remote, requiring days of travel to arrive at the village in need. Peter Rynning, Engineering Inspector for Wallace Group, and his wife Priscilla were first drawn to the need for water, sanitation, and hygiene training at an AIDS Orphanage in Ecuador. Having provided foster care for at risk infants here in the United States, the Rynnings had a special place in their heart for children in need. They joined Lifewater International to provide training for safe water resources. “Investments in water quality and quantity can reduce childhood deaths caused from diarrhea by 15-20%, better hygiene like washing hands and handling food safely reduces it by 35%, and improved sanitation reduces it by 40%. Integrating water, sanitation and hygiene education in projects is essential.” —Lifewater International.   P-and-P   Peter and Priscilla made their first trip to Ecuador in 2002. So convinced of the need for providing and the benefit of the training they returned two more times. “It changed our lives as we saw firsthand the need for and how accepting the people were of the training,” said Peter. The trips included water well drilling trainers and hygiene and sanitation specialists to provide support and training. Located in the remote areas of the upper Amazon River basin and the north western Esmeraldas Province, these villages were in dire need of clean water. Part of the mission of Lifewater International implements a strategy they call, “Teach to Train to Teach.” This means that they teach the indigenous population the skills and knowledge required to pass on the training methods. At each location Lifewater was able to train 25-30 people. In some instances the training required double translation from English to Spanish to Shuar – the native language of the Amazon villagers. The technique of training used is called “Participatory Training” in that the group gathers in a circle so everyone can see each other. The presenters sit at the same level which encourages participation and facilitates open communication.   stool   Training aids are specifically selected and sourced locally from materials which are easily available to allow continued use and replacement. Some items which are used are the three legged stool which exemplifies how different elements must be used together to accomplish a task. Other tools are songs, charts, and local village maps drawn by the participants. These maps show, from the villager’s perspective, where they live and how their village is oriented. This orientation allows the trainers to review and suggest possible alternatives for better hygiene and/or sanitation practices. The team takes turns presenting various aspects of the training and supporting each other in the making of the tippy-taps and other onsite training aids. (The tippy-tap is a hands free way to wash your hands that is especially appropriate for rural areas where there is no running water. It is operated by a foot lever and thus reduces the chance for bacteria transmission as the user touches only the soap.) Cert   Peter recalls a transformative moment for him was “one of a before and after experience. The before was when we first saw the 29 trainees at the remote village of Yuwientsa, Ecuador. They appeared extremely apprehensive as they sat around the circle of our training area. The after was that by the end of the training sessions, only four days later, they were exceptionally animated with their ‘teach backs’ of the lessons that we had shared with them. They used different methods of teaching the subjects (proper sanitation, hygiene training, etc.) which indicated that they really understood the lessons and could transpose the concepts into their own presentations.”   For more information about Lifewater International, please visit their website: http://lifewater.org/
01/ 06/ 2015
Safe Routes to School is an international program with origins in the 1970’s focused on the safety, health, and community of school children. Here in San Luis Obispo the program is supported by schools, the SLO Bike Coalition, local government, and parents. As a result of this collaborative approach many improvements have been made, and are in the works, to make the choice to bike, walk, or carpool to school safer and more enjoyable for kids and parents.   Bikes   Recently, Wallace Group joined in on this collaboration helping to fund monthly Safe Routes breakfasts and bike rack improvements for the students of Hawthorne Elementary. These monthly breakfasts offer a healthy treat and encourage the kids to walk, bike or carpool to school every day of the month. In addition to the health benefits of biking and walking, the students and parents who bike and walk to school reduce the number of cars in front of the school, which also reduces the danger of injury as parents and children are hurrying to school. The Safe Routes program has been a great tool for our local community and Wallace Group is proud to support this program!   Ben
12/ 30/ 2014
I was born and raised in rainy Bellingham, WA -ranked number 1 for least sunny days of any city in the US! Growing up in the gloom, I never really thought much of the lack of sunshine – it seemed ordinary to me, and I considered a rain coat a daily staple. It didn’t really stop me from getting out either – from a young age I was building forts in the woods or chasing newts in ponds with my classmates, even on the rainiest of days. My immediate family is one of the smallest I know – I am an only child, the only grandchild on my mom’s side, and I only have 4 cousins. I never pined for siblings too much – I had friends down the street I could go and play with whenever I wanted, and I enjoyed having my private space to get away. We always had a dog too, and it was always a Yellow Lab – they kept me company and I had all I needed. Though I grew up in the Northwest, I only partially adopted the culture. I skied as much as I could (sometimes 40 times a season) at Mt. Baker, sailed in the summers, and have always loved berries, but I couldn’t stand Salmon or mushrooms (I have since seen the light), and only really appreciated the greenery and water once I had left. Raised by  two attorneys, I knew I wanted nothing to do with the law, and always excelled in math and science in school. That, combined with my desire to get away from Bellingham, and an Environmental Engineer as a Grandfather (it skips a generation?) led me to Cal Poly and Engineering. At first Cal Poly was low on my list of colleges, but I made the choice to come to SLO and it has turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made. During college I spent my time learning and trying to integrate into the new place and culture of SLO. The experience has stretched me, and I still value placing myself in challenging situations to try and grow those same ways. I spent my summers back in Washington getting the best of both worlds – I would come home just as the sun was breaking through the clouds, spend a few months whitewater rafting, hanging out with my friends, enjoying long days, swimming in the lakes (our water supply came from a natural lake 8 miles long), and leaving just as the clouds started to return to a SLO still in the embrace of a lasting summer. Rafting   After I finished school, I decided to spend some time traveling while I had little to tie me down, and had a blast trekking through the Pacific Northwest for a few months - seeing family, camping in a temperate rainforest, hunting mushrooms, and taking in my childhood environment with new eyes. In the end, I finally made my way back to SLO, and began looking for a job. My search ended when I got hired at Wallace Group in May, and it has been 7 months of learning and growing – just what I needed. It took me a while to get used to the idea that winter is the greenest time instead of spring, and that swimming is done in salty water, but I have eased into the SLO life and really enjoy being here. These days you will find me tending to bees, building compost, hanging out with my chickens, out in the garden, or watching the sunset with a cold home-brewed beer. Questions not necessary in order of importance: Describe what you do at Wallace Group: A little bit of everything. I was hired in the Civil Engineering department, and in just 6 months I have worked on projects for Civil, Transportation, Surveying, Water Resources, & Mechanical Engineering – whatever needs doing, bring it on! What are some of your favorite activities with Wallace Group? Learning every day. What are you involved in outside Wallace Group? Organizations – SLO Permaculture Guild, SLO Bike Coalition, Cal Poly Student Experimental Farm Favorite pastime: Being outside – gardening, beekeeping, hiking, whitewater rafting, you name it. Favorite movie: The Man Who Planted Trees Favorite food: Can’t pick just one – chocolate, coffee, avocadoes, cream cheese, a fresh sugar snap pea… the list goes on. Describe your dream vacation: A long lazy trip down the Rogue River. What’s your favorite childhood memory? Making forts in the woods out of fir branches and keeping spiders as pets What’s your secret ability? Voice recognition. What is the furthest away from SLO have you been? Spain
12/ 22/ 2014
Water Cleansed by Wood Chips Take a ten minute drive in any direction and you will soon find yourself passing through farmland. We live in one of the most productive States in the country and each year our fields grow the crops that feed the world. Those crops and fields require fertilization in order to maintain a nutrient rich environment and continue to be productive year after year. Unfortunately, during irrigation some of the elements of the fertilizer washout as runoff into tailwater ditches, carrying nitrate along with it. Nitrate has been identified as a concern for groundwater contamination in our drinking water. Higher nitrate concentrations in water have been linked to health problems with infants and pregnant mothers. While not the only source of nitrate in groundwater, (septic wastewater systems are also culprits) farmlands present an opportunity to mitigate contamination. How to get rid of nitrates in water? Traditional methods are expensive, consume a great deal of energy, and also have unwanted byproducts. The standard method is akin to a giant water softener, removing nitrate using salt as a primary component. While effective, this method leaves a tremendous amount of brine to dispose of, which is not a very practical solution in the open fields of the area’s farmland. So, what do we do with this contaminated tailwater? A group of scientists at UC Davis, led by Dr. Harold L. Leverenz, have been studying this problem and a few years ago started testing an innovative idea. By constructing a small wetland containing a carbon source (wood chips) and diverting irrigation tailwater into them, the nitrate in the water was completely eliminated at the wetland outlet. How? The carbon from the wood chips reacts with the nitrate and releases chemically inert Nitrogen into the atmosphere. The woodchips convert the nitrate into nitrogen and clean water can be disposed of safely in the field or reused as irrigation water. wood_chips   Wood chips! Ground up surplus pallets! Green waste from area landfills! These scientists came up with a low tech, low maintenance and cost effective solution to protect our groundwater.  A wetland six feet deep, six feet wide and ten feet long filled with these wood chips can effectively filter approximately 500 gallons per day. A culvert of these wood chips can last up to ten years and turn a traditionally expensive process into a cost-effective filtration system. Add plant material like bulrush and get the added benefit of a visual indicator of the nitrate removal. As the water progresses through the system the plants on the outflow end will be visually healthier than the plants in the nitrate heavy solution.   Wetalnd-Outlet   Wallace Group is excited about this technology. Recently, we designed a wood chip system at a local greenhouse and the results have been spectacular. No trace elements of Nitrate detected at the outflow of their system. None. Santa Maria and the Wallace Group are in the process of designing one of these systems that will handle 2 million gallons per day. These forward thinking farmers and municipalities are embracing smart solutions and innovative ideas to protect our valuable resource of water. Farmers have a tradition of being good stewards of the land and now they are stepping up to become good stewards of what lies beneath it.
12/ 16/ 2014
The America’s Tire Company Store No. CAL 43 at 1443 Calle Joaquin San Luis Obispo, California is a 7,080 SF tire sales store on a 0.88 acre property.  The site was chosen for its central coast location because of the synergy of other similar automotive uses in the vicinity and the proximity to Highway 101. The store opened in early March 2013. Wallace Group provided surveying, planning, civil engineering, and landscape architecture services for the project. Our Planning Department prepared the Site Investigation Report which provided the guidance for America’s Tire for the development of the property.  We also assisted in the processing of General Plan Amendment (GPA) to rezone through the City’s Planning Commission and City Council.  The GPA involved rezoning the property from Tourism Commercial to Service Commercial with special considerations overlay to allow for the store to be developed.  The City agreed that the expanded area of rezoning of the Tourism Commercial to Service Commercial would be a more logical land use pattern. Upon approval of the GPA, Wallace Group prepared the submittal package for the Use Permit and Architecture Review Commission. Our Civil Engineering Department prepared the initial preliminary concept grading, drainage and utility plans for the City of San Luis Obispo’s Administrative Use Permit approval process.  The Civil Department coordinated and designed the final onsite and offsite construction plans, drainage report, and provided intermittent construction site inspection. Our Landscape Architecture Department created a design and layout that has visual appeal, addresses future stormwater runoff to the adjacent Prefumo Creek, preserved key existing trees while also providing additional drought tolerant and water efficient landscaping. The new irrigation system utilizes 100% recycled water from the City of San Luis Obispo.   079-2500491044-O   Stormwater quality structural control measures incorporated pervious concrete and bioswales in the design. Both of these elements work together to reduce storm runoff and encourage the water to percolate through the soil profile increasing the ground water and reducing overland flow. The initial grading of the site revealed a shallow bedrock.  This made the excavation difficult but provided beautiful, local rock for the rip rap at the creek bank. During larger storm events, the runoff will travel across the pervious concrete to the rock rip rap which is designed to slow and spread out the flow as it approaches the creek. This slowing and spreading prevents the water from eroding the creek bank and causes debris in the runoff to drop out of the water before it reaches the creek.   071-2500474455-O   The project design provides a water efficient landscape that maximizes beauty and shade coverage.  We were able to maintain a majority of the existing vegetation along the perimeter of the site. By limiting the vegetation removal it provided immediate shade coverage for the project.  The existing vegetation was incorporated into the landscape palate and storm drainage system. We removed non-native shrubs from the top of the Prefumo Creek bank and replaced them with native trees and shrubs to improve the habitat value of the creek. The landscape irrigation system design includes drip emitters, low-precipitation rate rotary heads and bubblers, all of which help to reduce water use in the landscape. The project was recently awarded Honorable Mention Green Landscape Award from the USGBC California Central Coast Chapter.