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Stay up-to-date on the latest industry happenings

  • The Consequences of Groundwater Sustainability in California

    Important Local Sacramento Groundwater Meeting on 2/13
    "THE CONSEQUENCES OF GROUNDWATER SUSTAINABILITY IN CALIFORNIA"

    EnviroTech is proud to be a scholastic co-sponsor at this months combined GRA/AEG meeting.

    As a scholastic supporter, EnviroTech has always tried to hire and use local Geoscience interns. At this event, our new Sacramento employee, Morgan, who is also a CSU, Sacramento Geology student, will give a small presentation.

    Here is a look at the presentation, and you can find more event details here on the GRA event site.

    PRESENTATION:

    In 2014 California enacted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to address impacts associated groundwater pumping. This act mandates that areas that depend upon groundwater achieve sustainability by 2040. To meet the requirements of this act there will need to be a net reduction in groundwater overdraft of more than 2 million acre-feet per year. The social, economic and environmental consequences—intended or otherwise—of this change in water policy are vast. Opportunities to augment supplies are limited, although new storage, conveyance and groundwater recharge will help. In areas connected to the state’s water supply systems—particularly the federal Central Valley Project and the State Water Project--there will be increased pressure to transfer water. This will impact on-going efforts to address water supply reliability and ecosystem issues in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. However, sustainability will be achieved principally though reductions in demand. In the San Joaquin Valley—the region accounting for most overdraft—this will involve permanent or temporary fallowing of hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland, with consequences for the farm economy in the valley and rural communities dependent upon farm labor. There will also be wide ranging environmental consequences. How land is fallowed, including the quality of soils, will affect air quality, water quality and terrestrial habitat. Demand reduction will also increase conflicts over the use of surface water to support aquatic habitat and wetlands as well as groundwater-dependent ecosystems. California needs to take a comprehensive look at what it is going to take to achieve groundwater sustainability and develop pathways that minimize or mitigate unwanted effects.

    When you support EnviroTech, you support the Geoscience Industry. We are dedicated to the Environmental and Geological professions.

    More Groundwater sampling information can be found in our resources section of our website.
  • 8 Recent Items Added to the Ca UST Fund

    UST Fund News from CORE Environmental

    INFORMATION HEARD FROM THOSE WHO DEAL WITH THE FUND Eight Recent Items as to the California UST Fund

    No. 1 –  The Fund’s Payment Unit recently hired two payments analysts and a manager, and it expects to hire two additional payments analysts next year. The Fund also has four engineering geologists coming onboard as well.

    No. 2 –  The Fund’s estimated revenue for the 2017/2018 fiscal year is about $330 million with $185 million allocated for reimbursement, with 20% earmarked for Class D claimants. This is an increase from last year and it is because the Fund is “activating more Letters of Commitment” (“LOCs”).

    No. 3 –  The Fund is now reviewing Budget change requests (“BCRs”) for the fiscal year 2017-2018 (“FY 17/18”). The Fund estimates review should take 60 to 90 days, and if a claimant does not receive a response in 30 days, it should contact the Fund through the correct Fund “mailbox,” here is the email - USTCleanUpFund.

    No. 4 –  Claimants should submit Project Execution Plans (“PEPs”) with their BCRs. However, the Fund admits that it is “just not there yet” in having the PEP process replace BCRs. So for now use the two processes in tandem.

    No. 5 –  The Fund is working through February and March 2017 reimbursement requests (“RRs”). The Fund reports that one of its “time sinks” is the first RR, in other words, RR #1. CORE Environmental, Inc. (a nonprofit advocate for cleanups) has suggested a dedicated channel at the Fund that would review only first RRs. The Fund staff seem very receptive to the idea.

    No. 6 –  The School Districts Account is “in good shape.” No new money is scheduled to be added to this account in FY17/18.

    No. 7 –  As for the Commingled Plume Account Program, the Fund says claimants need to submit their PEPs as soon as possible, or there may be no funding available.

    No. 8 –  Legislative Update relevant to the Fund: At the end of the 2017 legislative year, SB 5 (De Leon) passed both the State Senate and the State Assembly, designating $370 million to clean up sources of drinking water, among other things. However, SB 623 (Monning), the bill for a “water fee” to clean up shallow groundwater to protect small drinking water systems and wells, passed the Senate, but not the Assembly (so it will be ad-dressed in 2018).

    September 19, 2017

    Purposes of CORE

    • Create & support solutions to funding necessary for groundwater investigation and remediation
    • Encourage site closures based on sound science
    • Provide accurate information and knowledge

    For more information visit: Core Environmental's Website

    Read more EnviroTech News here.

  • New Groundwater Sustainability Requirements - CA

    Tools for New Groundwater Sustainability Agency’s (GSA)

    In accordance with guidelines created under the Sustainability Groundwater Management Act each groundwater basin in the State will have an Agency (GSA) dedicated to to acquiring and reporting specific groundwater data and parameters for each well. For more specifics on Sustainable Groundwater Management, you can visit the CA Dept of Water Resources.

    EnviroTech is a Company that provides products and instrumentation for acquiring that data, including the tools needed to satisfy many GSA requirements. This series is dedicated to the primary tools any GSA will need.

    To start all wells will need to be measured for depth and possibly datalogged. Here are two tools of the trade.

    1) Water Level Meters

    There are a host of meters to choose from but it can be assumed a GSA will require a water level meter with depth. Here is the most cost effective and efficient of all the brands available. Other excellent brands can be obtained through our website or catalog.

    Featured Product: Coaxial Cable Water Level Meter
    The Solinst Model 102 Water Level Meter is designed to measure groundwater levels, especially in small diameter (pumping ports) and deep wells. It is light and portable. The P10 Probe is recommended to provide enough weight in deeper wells. This is the go-to tool for GSA work.

    2) Leveloggers

    Also know as dataloggers or transducers, these tools will measure rising and falling water levels in a well over time at pre-programmed intervals.

    Featured Product: The Solinst Levelogger Junior Edge is an excellent cost savings way of collecting data from shallow environments. All you need is basic communication package then drop down a well, retrieve then download the data.

    If you have specific questions regarding any of these products or need help choosing the right tool for the job, don't hesitate to contact us.

  • How Has 2016/2017 Winter Rainfall Impacted Groundwater?

    2017 began with one of the wettest starts on record. While we saw reservoirs filling up and rushing rivers in California earlier this year, groundwater levels reflected the differing hydrologic conditions of individual groundwater basins. Although water levels in shallow basins may quickly show marked improvement, deeper, severely depleted groundwater basins may take years to recharge.

     

    Although Spring 2017 groundwater levels have mostly recovered from last year, they have not  yet recovered to pre-drought conditions in many areas of the state.

     

    When compared to 2016, spring 2017 groundwater levels are higher in many areas of the state. However, the impacts of the drought can still be seen when comparing spring 2017 groundwater levels to 2011 (pre-drought conditions). More information is available in this Spring 2017 Groundwater Level Data Summary from the State of California Natural Resources Agency.

     

    If you are going out in the field, here are more Resources for you:

     

  • Minimize Your Risk in Confined Spaces

    People working in confined spaces can face life-threatening hazards including toxic substances, explosions, and asphyxiation.

    Construction workers often perform tasks in confined spaces. OSHA defines confined spaces as: work areas that (1) are large enough for an employee to enter, (2) have limited means of entry or exit, and (3) are not designed for continuous occupancy. These spaces can present physical and atmospheric hazards that can be prevented if addressed prior to entering the space to perform work.

    OSHA standards help prevent construction workers from being hurt or killed by eliminating and isolating hazards in confined spaces at construction sites. Here are Confined Spaces FAQ from OSHA to assist employers in protecting their workers while working in and around confined spaces in construction.

    If you or your employees are going to be working in confined spaces, EnviroTech has many Air Monitoring & Gas Detection tools to make sure you are in a safe working environment. EnviroTech can also help you with calibrating equipment to make sure you are following OSHA Regulations.

    To find more information on Federal OSHA standards as well as for your state, click here.

    If you are not sure which Air Monitoring Tool is best for your confined space, please contact us, our environmental engineers and geologists would be happy to discuss your options to make sure you minimize risk and keep employees healthy and safe.

  • Stormwater Sampling Season

    Here comes the rain! The rain season has officially started, and that means more storm event monitoring on construction sites.  Are you ready?

    The EPA Construction General Permit requires turbidity and pH measurements in the field, so you will need to have a pH meter and turbidity meter that are working and in good condition. If you are looking for a good Turbidity Meter - check out the Hanna 98703 Turbidity Meter.

    Both the pH and turbidity meters will need to be calibrated before being used to ensure measurements are accurate. The state Department of Health requires surface-water treatment plant operators to calibrate them at least as often as recommended by the manufacturer. If your last calibration was more than three months ago, it’s probably time for a check-up.

    If you need help with calibration, or finding the right equipment for the job, EnviroTech can help!

    If you are in need of groundwater instruments, there are several manufacturers available for you to choose from. In our 30+ years in the field we have found that MyronL Company continues to produce high quality and exceptionally durable field instrumentation. The Ultrapen is of the most durable water quality meters and is setting the standard in easy to use handheld instrumentation.

    For more resources you can find the EPA’s guide to Developing Your Storm Water Prevention Pollution Plan and EnviroTech's specifications on Groundwater Sampling.

  • Why Calibrate?

    The Importance of Instrument Calibration

    Calibrating an instrument is all about establishing a baseline value, or a reference point within the electronics of the instrument. This is done so that all subsequent readings can relate to a known set value. Unless if the instrument has a reference point then all the readings, or measurements, have very little value.

    A good example is a simple pH meter that measures acidity and alkalinity along a scale of 1 to 14 points, the lowest value being more acid - the highest value being more alkaline. The value of 7 is referred to as neutral, as in pure water. Want a more scientific explanation of what exactly pH is….?

    Generally, buffers solutions of known values of pH 4, 7 or 10 are used to calibrate a pH meter. The meter is set, or adjusted against a known value during calibration. This allows the pH meter to have reference point so that the readings taken can relate to a set reliable value. If you took a pH reading of pool water without calibrating your instrument, you would have no confidence the value was representative of the true pH.

    Moreover, in the environmental consulting industry there several meters that require calibration prior to use; some are photoionization meters (PID) for measuring Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) in the air, multi-meters to measure groundwater parameters or a water level meter to measure the depth of water in well. Yes; a simple water level meter must be properly calibrated in the form of having reliable tape markings to within 1/100th of an inch.

    Imagine if you rented a water level meter that has been incorrectly spliced and the increments are missing a few feet. This means every measurement you take in the field is inaccurate by a few feet. If your project is trying to evaluate the subsurface groundwater gradient direction to determine where a leaking underground storage tank plume is heading and your water tape is off a few feet, then you have a big problem to reconcile.  If you never checked your rented tape before it was returned then you may never know why the measurements are false and ultimately your end hydro geologic study could be compromised.  This is one example why calibrating an instrument or meter is important.

    In fact most environmental consultants establish guidelines for their clients when acquiring groundwater, soil, or air monitoring measurements when conducting operations in the field. These guidelines are often referenced in a document entitled Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). A staple in the industry SOP is to calibrate an instrument in the field prior to use to best establish a true value. This establishes that the conditions in the field are reflected in the calibration as representative of actual field conditions allowing for a more accurate reading.

    This is why when renting any piece of equipment to have to assure it has been proper calibrated and has a calibration certificate included. Many regulators require this and may want to see it onsite.

    EnviroTech has been in business since 1987 and our qualified staff have been to many manufacturers’ schools to learn the trade of proper calibration. You can be assured when renting equipment from EnviroTech it is properly calibrated and you’ll receive a calibration certificate.

    We have video tutorials on calibrating the MiniRAE 3000 Calibration, MultiRAE Lite Calibration, YSI-556 Calibration, and Hanna 991300 Calibration. Let us know if you have other calibration questions, or would like to request a new calibration video for water level meters or other instruments, we will add it to the cue!

  • New Emerging Contaminant

    An emerging contaminant is a recently discovered compound that may, or may not, represent a risk or danger to public health.  As in this case, they are often compounds that the EPA is currently investigating. I learned about this compound at a public Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) meeting held at the former Mare Island Naval Shipyard located in Vallejo, California.

    As a brief prelude, Mare Island was an active Naval shipyard from 1854 until its decommissioning in 1993. Over 500 ships, submarines and support vessels were built at this facility during a time when very few environmental regulations existed and, as a result, now this former shipyard is undergoing environmental cleanup in conjunction with ongoing transformation into a thriving futuristic residential and business community.  As part of this transformation the US Navy has a defined process known as the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program. This program allows the safe transfer of military installations into the hands of the public domain and further oversees environmental cleanup operations. For more information on the cleanup and water quality instrumentation used at Mare Island and the RAB public meeting process for other former naval facilities such as Hunters Point, Treasure Island, and Alameda click here.

    Having attended these RAB meetings for decades, I give credit to the RAB members and Navy BRAC teams for their oversight and attentive involvement.

    One BRAC team member gave an interesting presentation defining a new emerging contaminant compound, per and polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS's). As taken from the EPA website (PFAS’s) are a diverse group of compounds resistant to heat, water, and oil. For decades, they have been used in hundreds of industrial applications and consumer products such as carpeting, apparels, upholstery, food paper wrappings, fire-fighting foams and metal plating. You can find information here.

    The EPA has established what is called a lifetime health advisory (LHA) exposure limits at 70 part per trillion (PPT) in drinking water meaning a person should not be exposed to a level greater than that. Comparatively, a PPT is an infinitesimally small amount; think one second out of 30,000 years.

    The Navy is undertaking an initial evaluation that will implement a groundwater investigation and sampling project at the former Mare Island Naval Shipyard to evaluate the potential presence of PFAS’s in ground water. The sampling calls for specialized protocols to redevelop some existing wells and avoid cross contamination or introducing PFAS’s in the sampling process. Further investigation shows the Navy’s has conducted similar studies of this nature at military installations some of which show the presence of PFAS’s at levels exceeding the EPA lifetime threshold. More information on this and how the Navy is responding.

    The presentation outlined the Navy's interest is to assure this compound is not a constituent of concern at Mare Island. The intent is to sample in the Winter of 2017 and prepare a technical memorandum while working closely with regulatory agencies on plans additional assessment, if needed.

    Stay tuned, EnviroTech will provide an ongoing update of the progress being done by the Navy for this new emerging contaminant.

    Find Water Quality Instrumentation Here.

     

  • Low Flow Sampling In Ground Water

    Low Flow Sampling in Ground Water:
    An Overview on the Measurement of Water Quality Parameters to Determine Stability in Ground Water

    In December 1995, the United States Environmental Protection Agency developed and published a document entitled “Low-Flow Ground-Water Sampling Procedures” (EPA/540/S-95/54). Since then, the use of low flow sampling in ground water has increasingly been used to support site assessment and remedial performance monitoring objectives.

    The most common ground water purging and sampling methodology is to purge wells using bailers or high speed pumps to remove 3-5 casing volumes followed by sample collection. Adverse impacts can occur through this method affecting sample quality by increasing levels of turbidity. An overestimation of certain analytes – namely metals or hydrophobic organic compounds – may affect results with this method through the inclusion of otherwise immobile artifactual particles. Filtration of these turbid particles has proved undesirable in rectifying the turbidity problem and may, in fact, bias the results of contaminant concentration on the low side by potentially removing mobile (contaminant-associated) particles. These problems can often be mitigated by using low flow purging and sampling to reduce sampling-induced turbidity.

    In order to minimize the hydraulic stress placed on an aquifer during purging and sampling, the technique of using low flow sampling is recommended. This is typically done through the use of an adjustable rate pump to remove water from the screened zone at a rate that will cause minimal drawdown of the water level in the well. Drawdown is measured in the well concurrent with pumping using a water level meter. Low flow sampling does not require a specific flow rate or purge volume. Low flow refers to the velocity with which water enters the pump intake and that is imparted to the formation pore water in the immediate vicinity of the well screen. Water level drawdown provides the best indication of the stress imparted by a given flow rate for any given hydrological situation. Typical flow rates on the order of 0.1-0.5 L/min are used, but this does depend on site-specific hydrogeology. Low flow sampling relies on the ability to collect samples after water level and measured field parameters stabilize over three consecutive readings taken three to five minutes apart.

    Parameter Stabilization

    It is recommended that water quality parameters be used to determine purging needs prior to sample collection in each well. Stabilization of parameters such as pH, specific conductance, dissolved oxygen (DO), oxidation-reduction potential (ORP), temperature, and turbidity should be used to determine when formation water is accessed during purging. In general, the order of stabilization is pH, temperature, and specific conductance, followed by ORP, DO, and turbidity. Performance criteria for determination of stabilization should be based on water-level drawdown, pumping rate, and equipment specifications for measuring these parameters. Instruments such as the YSI 556 multiparameter instrument can simultaneously measure parameters while utilizing a flow cell to give continuous data.

    It should be noted that turbidity is a very conservative parameter in terms of stabilization. Turbidity is always the last parameter to stabilize and excessive purge times are invariably related to the establishment of too stringent turbidity stabilization criteria. It should also be noted that natural turbidity levels in ground water may exceed 10 nephelometric turbidity units (NTUs).

    In-line water quality indicator parameters should be continuously monitored during purging. Water level drawdown should also be checked periodically as a guide to flow rate adjustment with the goal being minimal drawdown (<0.1 m) during purging. Measurements of water quality parameters should be taken every three to five minutes if the above suggested rates are used. Stabilization is achieved after all parameters being measured have stabilized for three successive readings. In lieu of measuring all five parameters, a minimum subset would include pH, conductivity, and DO (or turbidity).

    Three successive readings should be within + 0.1 for pH, + 3% for conductivity, + 10 mv for ORP, and + 10% for DO or turbidity. These are guidelines provided for rough estimates. Many state agencies encourage the use of low flow sampling because it’s designed to collect a sample that most truly represents the water in the screened section of the aquifer surrounding the monitoring well. It does not come from water that is mixed within the well by a bailer or inertial sampler, nor does it come from an average of water that flowed the full length of a long screened interval.

    Conclusion

    The low flow sample can most often be trusted to best represent the contamination or lack thereof in the aquifer because it was produced by a process that minimizes stress on the aquifer or well. Low flow sampling also reduces the variability in sampling technique that is inherent in traditional bailing and purging procedures. In summary, low flow reduces the physical and chemical stresses, reduces the variability in sample procedures, increases the ability to determine well stabilization by continuously monitoring water quality parameters, and reduces the chance that changes in chemical concentrations are induced by the sampling technique.

    You can find more resources and technical field guides here

  • Relationships Matter

    Building relationships allow you to connect with people who are the key source of information, resources and opportunity. But how do you start building your network and investing in your professional career?

    Organizations. Besides creating a network of relationships, organizations also provide excellent opportunities to give back, mentor others, and find resources to help businesses succeed.

    As a Geo-Technician, here are the organizations you need to know about:

    National Groundwater Association (NGWA)
    This organization keeps an active pulse on all National Groundwater issues. Right now they are concentrating on the effects of Federal Budget cuts at the EPA level and the impact that will have on the environmental community and the environment in general. For example, did you know the proposed cuts are approaching 30% for the EPA, the largest single budget reduction of any government agency. This is good news to know, plus annually the NGWA sponsors an exciting Las Vegas Groundwater Week convention every December plus a variety of other conferences, conventions and seminars. For all Project and Senior level consultants, being a member of NGWA is a must.

    Groundwater Resources Association (GRA)
    The Groundwater Resources Association is certainly top of the list. This is a must membership for those residing on the West Coast at any level from staff geologist to Senior management. This Association monitors all activities on the west coast and right now key subjects that impact all environmental consultants are SGMA, subsidence and the ongoing drought relief efforts in California to name only a few. They have an active technical branch and are further integrated into the political hub of Sacramento. Plus, this group is active and fun hosting branch monthly dinner meetings, webinars, conferences and a totally inspiring Hydrovisions publication that carries it's full weight in groundwater news. It's really a exceptional organization and if you don't believe it, just visit their web site.

    Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists (AEG)
    If you are past the staff geo-level then it's time to become a member of AEG, it's nearly a requirement to being a professional engineer or geologist or geophysicist. The subjects covered include economic geology, hydrology, engineering geology and more. AEG has local chapters for networking, annual conferences, several professional publications and frankly to much to cover here. If you're an environmental professional or  engineer, the AEG is a good Association to be part of.

    If you are looking for other resources:

    Hand’s Down the best publication for Geo-Sciences is Earth Magazine

    We're not talking about a computer publication we are referring to a real magazine. Like the old days, the kind where you can sit back in an armchair and simply enjoy reading about the subjects you love; like the Earth. The best publication for this is Earth Magazine. If you are schooled in any realm of the earth sciences, this publication will have you spell bound emerging you into a world of Geology, paleontology, archeology with interesting and fast articles leaving you contemplating....... You can not walk away from a sit down with Earth Magazine without having an agenda of interesting things you want to do. Visit Earth Magazine Online and get your subscription.

    And dont forget to connect with EnviroTech Online:

       

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