The Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology at Montana Tech has named Thomas J. Osborne as the recipient of the 2017 Uuno Sahinen Silver Medallion. The award is named after former Bureau Director, the late Uuno Sahinen, who is widely recognized for the Bureau’s growth. The Uuno Sahinen Award acknowledges “outstanding contributions in understanding and development of energy, mineral, or groundwater resources in Montana” and is given to an outstanding geologist each year.
The award will be presented to Osborne at the university’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 6, 2017 at 11:00 am at the Butte Civic Center.
Tom was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1948 and graduated from high school in Germantown, Wisconsin in 1966. His love of the hydrologic sciences originated with his dad, Joe, on the many float trips they shared down the rivers of northern Wisconsin. Tom attended the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point earning with honors Bachelor of Science degrees in Forestry and Natural Resources Management. His first trip to Montana was in 1970, but that summer he was drafted into the US Army. He served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division directing artillery fire from firebases near the DMZ and later was the forward observer with the 2nd of the 327th Infantry near Cam Ran Bay. He was honorably discharged Specialist Fourth Class and awarded the Bronze Star.
Tom earned a Master of Science degree in Water Resources Management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1974. His thesis was entitled “Oil Shale Development in Northwestern Colorado: Water and Related Land Impacts”. During this study, Tom met and married the love of his live, Angie, a Leadville, Colorado girl.
In 1976 Tom and Angie moved to Lame Deer, Montana where he worked for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe as the Principal Investigator for EPA-sponsored coal hydrology research studies. They moved to Butte in 1980, where Tom worked briefly at MERDI, before accepting a position at the MBMG. Tom conducted landmark investigations of the irrigation water balance of the Greenfields Bench Irrigation District, and acid mine drainage baseline and mitigation studies of abandoned coal mines of Stockett-Sand Coulee, Montana.
Tom left the Bureau in 1986 to become the first Director of the Central Wisconsin Groundwater Center at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. In 1990, he returned to Billings to open an environmental consulting office for the Braun Intertec where he led many industry and governmental projects related to water, energy and mineral resource development in Montana and Wyoming. In 1997, Tom founded his own consulting business, which in 1999 became HydroSolutions Inc., an environmental and engineering firm with offices in Billings and Helena.
Tom is a Registered Professional Hydrologist with 42 years of experience working on water quality, mining hydrology, water supplies, contaminant cleanup, energy and agricultural water issues, and provides expert services supporting litigation. He has authored and co-authored over 50 professional publications and presentations. He has been appointed to various scientific advisory boards and in 2013 was named a “Water Legend” by the Montana Chapter of AWRA.
He and Angie have three adult children and nine grandchildren and are active in their church. His hobbies include hiking, floating, hunting and Nordic skiing, and he still competes in 50 km races. For the last 10 years, Tom has been active philanthropically and personally with water development projects in Africa.