Reevaluating Your Groundwater Monitoring Plan Can Save Money

December 9, 2020

groundwater monitoring well cost

The events of 2020 have affected the economy, the way we conduct business, and even our social interactions. Now, more than ever, streamlining costs is key for public and private sector clients across the country. Enter groundwater monitoring projects.

Often overlooked as an opportunity to reduce costs, it’s an excellent place to start when examining the costly operational processes of a solid waste facility. Groundwater monitoring is often thought of as necessary for compliance requirements and overlooked when considering ways to reduce spending. However, the proactive review of all monitoring projects may offer monitoring reduction or even cessation opportunities.

Consider the following questions:  

  • When you evaluate monitoring data, are you also evaluating the adequacy of your monitoring program? Are the well locations, number of samples, sampling frequency, and the monitored constituents approved during the site closure appropriate for current conditions (possibly 10 to 15 years into post-closure monitoring)? Ask yourself if it still makes sense.
  • Have you completed a deep dive into the data to look at trends? Have you looked at naturally occurring conditions as potentially skewing constituent concentrations in groundwater? Have you completed statistical analyses of monitoring data to justify reducing the frequency or scope of monitoring?
  • Compare how many years you are into post-closure care with the original required monitoring period. Is there a way to shorten this? Can the zone of discharge or point of compliance be modified? Are there receptors nearby? Can you demonstrate either waste mass stability or stable/shrinking groundwater contamination? 

SCS Engineers has successfully employed these strategies at several Florida landfills. For instance, in Marion County, the SCS team worked to get a cessation in landfill gas and groundwater monitoring at the Martel Closed Landfill. Hired to conduct routine post-closure monitoring, the team observed obvious trends in the data that were favorable to the County. If you consider that monitoring costs average $10,000 to $50,000 per year, the potential cost savings over ten years is $100,000 to 500,000.

Is it worthwhile to take a fresh look at your monitoring program? Absolutely. 

  • Potentially significant cost savings can be recognized by the early cessation of monitoring. If you have a contaminated site, you could potentially reduce your environmental liability and decrease environmental reserves. For sites requiring financial assurance, the cost estimates that are the basis for the amount of financial assurance required could be decreased, thus decreasing the costs to maintain financial assurance.
  • Ending/closing out a consent order requirement also allows for redevelopment of a site, thus turning a liability into an asset, and who wouldn’t want that?
  • By investing a relatively small amount in evaluating your monitoring programs, you could realize a return on investment within 1 to 2 years by reducing or ceasing monitoring.

Bottom line: you should take the initiative to ask a few simple questions to see if further examination is warranted. What if contaminants are naturally occurring? Is the data in the technical reports supporting conclusions that include reduction or cessation when appropriate? Are you simply meeting the minimum requirements of the permit without an eye on the future?


So, what’s in your groundwater monitoring plan?


About the Author: SCS Project Director David Atteberry puts his 20+ years of environmental consulting and management experience to work for his clients. His technical experience includes geologic and hydrogeologic investigations involving hazardous waste, solid waste, environmental, and water supply. Dave’s technical areas of expertise include contamination assessments, remediation, site characterization, aquifer characterization, RCRA compliance, waste characterization, environmental due diligence, reserve budgeting, and field sampling techniques.


SCS Groundwater™

SCS Groundwater™ collects and efficiently organizes groundwater monitoring and maintenance data providing those responsible for environmental compliance with a reliable, consistent, and cost-effective way to manage, view, and assess large volumes of information.

The application’s primary value is enabling users to set up a detailed monitoring plan for any number of events, including the sampling points to include and what analyses to perform at each point. Once the information upload is complete, the application checks incoming data against the plan to determine if all work is completed.

Efficient and consistent data collection means better quality control, fewer violations, and less costly operations. The application is a relational data management system specifically designed for groundwater management. Learn about more benefits here.






Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am