ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENTS

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Transaction Screens

Environmental due diligence can be accomplished through transaction screens.  The objective of the environmental transaction screen is to identify any recognized environmental conditions associated with past practices on the properties and present conditions that may indicate the presence of hazardous substances or petroleum products.  EnSol had performed transaction screens for many different types of facilities in general accordance with Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Transaction Screen Process (ASTM E 1528-00). 

Phase I/Phase II Environmental Site Assessments

The staff at EnSol have extensive experience in conducting both Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs).  Generally, Phase I ESAs required by a third party (such as a lending institution) must be completed in accordance with the Federal requirements for All Appropriate Inquiry and the ASTM Practice E-1527-13, Environmental Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process, and also with the U.S. EPA’s All Appropriate Inquiries Rule.  Should a property have a known recognized environmental concern (REC), such as past or current presence of underground storage tanks, or should on be uncovered during a Phase I ESA, a Phase II ESA is conducted to determine the subsurface conditions at the subject property with the primary goal of determining if any soil and/or groundwater remedial actions are required prior to site redevelopment.  EnSol follows the ASTME-1903 Standard Guide for Environmental Site Assessments. 

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Documenting potential recognized environmental concerns during a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment.

Wetland Walkovers or Delineations

Fawn discovered bedding in a wetland during a Wetland Delineation

EnSol staff have provided wetland services to numerous public and private clients.  Some projects only require wetland walkovers, which are less intensive than formal delineations and are appropriate for projects where identified wetland areas can be avoided while still achieving the project objectives.  Formal wetland delineations are required in instances where a project has the potential for wetland disturbance. EnSol staff have conducted numerous wetland delineations, submitted wetland delineation reports describing each wetland’s vegetative community, site hydrology, and soil characteristics, and obtained jurisdictional determinations from the US Army Corps of Engineers without the need for costly reevaluations.  If wetland disturbance is deemed necessary, EnSol also assists clients with securing state and federal permits associated with work in wetlands, including nationwide permits and the associated pre-construction notice for smaller disturbances and Section 404 permits application with their associated alternatives analysis and mitigation plan.  Wetland mitigation plans described how the client plans to offset impacted wetlands with either on or offsite wetland restoration, creation, or other means.

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Ecological Studies

The relationship between plants and animals and their environment is an important aspect of project planning.  EnSol staff has performed a wide array of ecological studies that are often a small but integral part of successful projects.  Examples of ecological studies include:

  • Stream Visual Assessments and Stream Impact Mitigation Planning utilizing the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Standard Stream Visual Assessment Protocol

  • Design of Stream habitat enhancements including aerating waterfall-like structures and “Little Underwater Neighborhood Keepers Encompassing Rheotactic Salmonids” or LUNKERS which when coupled with downstream vanes and/or a wedge dam provide a thermal refuge for trout and other fish species, as well as streambank stability and edge cover aquatic habitat.

  • Invasive Species Inventories and Control Plans utilizing a combination of biological and chemical control methods 

  • Fish surveys, aquatic plant surveys, and water quality assessments performed in the development of Lake Management Plans which often include stakeholder outreach and strategies to address eutrophication and resource over-exploitation

  • Request for NYS Part 182 Determinations which includes a review of the available habitat on and immediately adjacent to a property for suitability of suspected endangered, threatened, or protected species in the area to determine the need for an incidental take permit

Hydrogeological Investigations

Impact Studies

EnSol has prepared or been involved in the development and implementation of several hydrogeological investigations.  Hydrogeological investigations typically begin with collection of regional, or site-specific if available, background information on geology, topography, nearby mapped groundwater aquifers (primary, principal, and sole-source), and surface water features.  This information is used to inform a series of exploratory test pits, test borings, and standpipe piezometer installations to establish a baseline understanding of site-specific geology and groundwater levels.  If necessary, in situ tests to determine characteristics like permeability will be performed and/or a select number of the boreholes will be completed with monitoring wells to collect water quality samples.  Nested piezometers are often included to help define vertical gradients.  After the initial installation, the piezometers and monitoring wells and potentially connected surface waters are monitored over time and across seasons.  The collected hydrogeological data, including depth to water, hydraulic conductivity, hydraulic gradients, recharge and discharge areas, and other related information to can be used to describe site hydrogeology using hydrographs, piezometric surfaces, and flow nets and to identify the site’s critical stratigraphic section.

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Taking Measurements at a groundwater well during a Hydrogeological Investigation.

Many projects and most environmental permit applications today require an interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers working together with the client to identify the scope of issues, and then focusing individual attention on specific elements of the whole to provide practical solutions to eliminate identified impacts or mitigate them to a responsible degree.  Commonly required specialty studies include:

  • Noise Impact Studies

  • Traffic Impact Studies

  • Visual Resource Assessments

  • Odor Impact Studies

  • Cultural Resource Assessments

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Sending weather balloons afloat as elevation markers during a Visual Resources Assessment.

Site Selection Assessments

Every project has a set of required or desirable qualities for the property on which the project is to be developed.  Projects generally have a mixture of local, state, and federal requirements that define a acceptable location for a specific project, but other client specific or economic requirements that may need consideration.  Site selection assessments in which EnSol works with their clients to identify and rank such siting criteria and then develop alternatives to fulfill these criteria either onsite, offsite, or both, are one of EnSol’s expertise.  A site selection assessment can help ensure your project is properly sited to be as successful as possible.