Applied Ecosystem Services, LLC

  1. Aquatic biota and water quality

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    Regulatory and resource agencies sometimes require collection of benthic macroinvertebrates and/or fish for baseline data or permit compliance. It is too common for them to not know what they will do with the data. Correctly analyzing and interpreting these data yields valuable information that operators and regulators can use to make well-informed decisions regarding Clean Water Act compliance. Aquatic biotic communities reflect ambient water quality conditions much better than do chemical concentrations.
  2. Aquatic sediments

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    Collecting sediment samples for analysis of contaminants—particularly in river systems—is not just a matter of going out with a bucket and shovel. In fact, it is much more complex than a water quality survey, aquatic biota survey, or any terrestrial sampling program. Monitoring of sediment contaminants frequently is done to determine whether the sediments are a sink or a source of the chemicals of interest, and to evaluate the effects of the contaminants on the aquatic ecosystem as a whole.
  3. Best available science

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    The requirement to use the best available science appears in most environmental regulations at the federal and state levels, but best available science is not defined in the dictionary or by consensus. Washington state lists excellent criteria in its Administrative Code (WAC 365-195-905), but these criteria are not complete nor easily applied by the non-technical decision-maker. Download the PDF.
  4. Biological water quality standards

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    The basis for setting water quality standards is decades out of date, given our current understanding of environmental data and availability of recently developed statistical models. The use of a single maximum concentration limit (MCL) for individual chemical elements does not reflect natural ecosystem function nor provide accurate indications of whether regulated industrial activities adversely impact the specific designated beneficial uses of surface or ground waters at specific locations. Water is a complex mixture of compounds, not individual ions, and concentrations vary with temperature, pH, binding and release with inorganic and organic substrata, and other factors.
  5. Biotic abundance and limiting factors

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    Sage-grouse, salmon, desert tortoise, and many other animals are listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) or are being considered for listing. Much data have been collected on population abundance, distribution, and habitat quantity and quality. Unfortunately, most biotic data are incorrectly analyzed because count data differ from continuous data and require different statistical models. Because ineffective policy decisions result from inappropriate models correct analytical results are critical for regulated industries, regulators, and other stakeholders.
  6. Censored data

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    Many projects or operation involve geochemistry: chemicals in water, sediments, soils, or rocks. Most people are not concerned with chemicals like magnesium sulfate or sodium chloride, but they are seriously concerned with toxins that effect human and environmental health. These toxins can be inorganic metals such as arsenic, cadmium, and zinc or organic compounds such as polychlorinated dioxins, furans, biphenyls, and pesticides. These toxins are most commonly present in very low concentrations, frequently not detectable.
  7. Ecological flows

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    Many common threads connect geographically separate regulatory and public concerns. Oregon has peak and ecological flows for water storage projects, Nevada has water quality draining from waste rock disposal areas (RDAs), West Virginia (and other Appalachian coal mining areas) has downstream water quality and aquatic biota from valley fill runoff. Related concerns involve fish and the Endangered Species Act (ESA): bull trout in Idaho; salmon in Oregon and Washington; Lahontan cutthroat trout in Nevada.
  8. Ecological risk analysis

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    Toxic metals and organic compounds are commonly present at very low concentrations in water, sediments, soils, and rocks. Concentrations cannot be quantified with 99% certainty; if those chemicals are present the instrument cannot distinguish them from zero. Concentrations below laboratory reporting limits are censored because their values are unknown. Censored values can be 70-80% of the available date, a meaningful amount of valuable information. Correct analysis of censored data is particularly important when performing an ecological risk analysis (ERA) as part of the CERCLA Superfund process.
  9. EMS value

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    Environmental management systems (EMS) are policies directing how the company complies with statutory and regulatory environmental constraints on its operations. The Equator Principles (EP) are a financial industry benchmark for determining, assessing, and managing social and environmental risk in project financing. Implementing the former adds value to the company and increases investor confidence that the latter are reducing social and economic risks. Download the PDF.
  10. Environmental data essential

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    Environmental data are the foundation for all natural resource operations. They are the scientific basis for environmental impact analyses by public lands management agencies. Mining, energy generation and transmission, and livestock grazing all depend on the environmental impact assessment being based on appropriately collected, analyzed, and interpreted data. Point source water discharges require permits: a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for discharge directly to any surface water or a Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF) permit for discharge to the ground and not directly to surface or ground waters.

Providing essential environmental services since 1993.