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Now viewing articles posted in 2018.

  • Top 5 Uses For Drones in Engineering and Ecology

    March 1st, 2018 by Eileen Pannetier


    Over the past few years, drones have evolved from something under every Christmas tree to a valuable tool and investment for civil engineers and environmental scientists.  The use of drones in engineering is expanding rapidly as the accuracy of these tools increases and as costs go down.  There are still barriers to using drones, including the time necessary for pilot training, the technical challenges and software expertise required for post-processing drone imagery, and a lack of uniform standards for products.  EagleEye AeroboticsTM, a subsidiary of Comprehensive Environmental Inc. (CEI), has met these challenges to provide industry-leading drone services, including the top five uses described below.

    1. Investigations of Large or Inaccessible Sites

    Large and/or inaccessible locations such as deep woods, expansive wetlands, densely vegetated stream corridors, and salt marshes are ideal for drone investigations. In just a few hours, drones can provide high-resolution imagery for areas that would take days or weeks to assess on foot.  For example, locating beaver dams throughout an extensive stream system can be done quickly and easily with a drone. A sediment plume degrading a river can be rapidly tracked back to its source, such as an unstabilized soil stockpile, helping to speed up mitigation efforts and minimize habitat damage. Big storms may cause an unknown amount of erosion and damage, but drones can be used to quickly assess large areas and prioritize response actions.  As with any technology, there are limitations, but investigations suddenly become quick, effective, and geolocated for easy and precise repetition. 


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  • The 5 Most Important Things to Know About Water Quality Monitoring

    January 26th, 2018 by Bob Hartzel

    Collecting reliable water quality data is one of the most important aspects of protecting and developing management plans for our rivers and lakes. Monitoring data can be used to understand the type and severity of water quality impairments and help in setting achievable targets for improvement. Water quality monitoring can also indicate long-term trends and identify critical thresholds that are approaching, such as increasing phosphorus levels that could result in frequent algae blooms if not addressed. Five key considerations for design of a water quality monitoring program are summarized below.

    1. Program Objectives

    What questions should the data answer?

    1. Practical Considerations

    Fit your data collection objectives to your budget, with careful consideration of the cost and value of each parameter. What are the statistical and data quality requirements?

    1. Monitoring Locations

    The number and location of high-priority monitoring locations will vary depending on the waterbody type, watershed size, and data goals. At a minimum, consider establishing river and tributary monitoring locations just upstream of the confluence points with your focus waterbody or river segment. For lakes and ponds, establish a “deep-spot” monitoring location for each major basin.




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  • The 9 Most Important Features of a Watershed Plan

    January 23rd, 2018 by Bob Hartzel


    A Watershed-Based Plan (WBP) is intended to provide watershed-specific information and analyses that will promote actions to protect and restore water quality. Development of a “9-element” WBP is a requirement for watershed restoration and water quality protection projects seeking federal funding under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act. The 9 WBP elements are summarized below.


    1. Identify the causes and sources of pollution that will need to be controlled to achieve water quality goals for the watershed.

    2. Determine the pollutant reductions needed to achieve water quality goals for the watershed.

    3. Describe the management actions needed to achieve the targeted pollutant load reductions and identification of critical areas where those actions will be implemented.

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  • 4 Things you should do now for MS4 compliance and some you shouldn't!

    January 19th, 2018 by Nick Cristofori

    As you’re probably aware, the 2016 NPDES MS4 stormwater permit goes into effect July 1, 2018 for both Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  Now that we’re into 2018, this date is barely 5 months away!  Between now and then, there are a few items that you should work on (and maybe a few you shouldn’t) to make the transition to the new permit easier.  See below for more info.

    Item 1.  Evaluate Your Program and Budget for Implementation

    Everyone knows that meeting the MS4 permit requirements will cost money, but how much?  The short answer is, “it depends”.  What have you done so far and where do you need to go?  If you don’t know the answer to these questions, you would benefit from evaluating your existing program as it relates to 2003 and 2016 permit requirements.  This will help you determine where your gaps are and recommendations for future work.  Once you know these answers, you can determine program costs for implementation, even on a yearly basis.  This is a good first step for virtually any community. 

    Item 2.  Make Sure you Meet the 2003 Permit Requirements

    Did you know? – There are 3 different bylaws or ordinances that were required under the 2003 permit:

    • Illicit Discharge, Detection and Elimination (IDDE)
    • Construction/Erosion and Sediment Control
    • Post-Construction Stormwater Management

    These were required to be in place by May 1, 2008, nearly 10 years ago.  If these aren’t in place now, your community is in non-compliance.  In fact, EPA even asks about the status of each one on the first page of the upcoming Notice of Intent (NOI) Submittal, so they’ll be checking to see that these were met.  If these aren’t in place, your community should be working towards meeting these requirements, particularly the IDDE and erosion and sediment control ones, as requirements for these items are the same under the new permit as the old one. 

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