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Tales from the Trenches
Regional Land and Water News You Can Use
 
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January 2014                               Issue 16

MDE is Changing Recharge Rules for Certain Water Appropriations 
Water cycle diagram on a landscape section. Digital illustration.

In 2008, the Maryland legislature passed Senate Bill 674, sponsored by State Senator David Brinkley and still known as the "Brinkley Bill." The bill loosens commonly restrictive groundwater appropriation policies and procedures that hamstrung orderly growth and land development in Priority Funding Areas within Carroll, Frederick and Washington Counties. Those policies held the allowable municipal housing density at not much more than 1 unit per acre, which was far less than the 3.5 units-per-acre envisioned by Smart Growth.

Our President came to be the only consultant to serve on an MDE Committee on implementation measures to enact the Bill.  Based in part on Committee recommendations, draft regulations were issued by the agency late in 2013. ALWI attended a hearing and offered constructive, written suggestions to help assure the final version comported with legislative intent. No matter whether MDE comes to accept our suggestions or not, the "Brinkley Bill" affords a meaningful relaxation of otherwise restrictive permit application requirements. We are pleased to have been key supporters of its conceptualization, passage and implementation.   

Presently we are serving clients (both public and private sector) who seek more generous groundwater appropriations under the "Brinkley  Bill," and the outlook for success is positive. Please contact us to discuss how pursuit of a more generous groundwater appropriation under the "Brinkley Bill" might benefit your jurisdiction or circumstance.  
Recent EPA Rule-Making Changes Phase I ESA Process 

gas pump

More than 30 years ago, now infamous incidents of pollutant releases (in upstate New York and southwestern Missouri)  resulted in toxic contamination that left land worthless and banks owning mortgages on property more costly to clean up than its value.   

 

In the wake of these events,  the banking industry sought and the environmental consulting profession began to provide a means for rapidly and economically assessing the potential for commercial or industrial property to carry untenable cleanup  liabilities associated with ownership or acceptance as loan collateral.  

 

When Congress established the Superfund for the cleanup of the most hazardous toxic waste sites, it created an exemption for cleanup cost liability for certain innocent purchasers of environmentally impacted property, termed the "innocent landowner defense."  To qualify for the exemption, an owner or would-be owner would need to demonstrate that "all appropriate inquiries" had been undertaken in the course of a fully diligent pre-acquisition environmental evaluation. Such an evaluation came to be known as a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment or ESA.  

 

In the 1990s,  the marketplace was beset with variability in the scope, fee and turnaround time for a Phase I ESA.  Everyone was doing them differently.  By the late 1990s, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) issued Standards for performing Phase I ESAs, which the banking industry gradually and generally came to accept. In 2006, the EPA published its All Appropriate Inquiries rule, which accepted ASTM Standard No. E 1527-05 as compliant by reference.  

 

Recently ASTM issued a further update to its Standard, and we have learned that EPA is in the process of updating its ruling to recognize the current Standard (E 1527-13) rather than the one it initially recognized as AAI-compliant (E 1527-05). In support of our clients who seek maximum cost-effectiveness in the highly competitive and commoditized market, ALWI supported the continued EPA acceptance of the ASTM -05 Standard.  Earlier this month, however, EPA issued a revised rule-making that will reference ASTM Standard No. E 1527-13.  

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ALWI Phase I ESA services remain priced highly competitively in the local market, despite these changes and the associated added time investment. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding the specifics of these changes and for a no-obligation proposal for a Phase I ESA.   

In This Issue
Brinkley Bill Reg's
Phase I ESA Changes
Fracking Controversy
Upcoming Presentation
Contact Us:
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Sykesville, MD 21784
info@alwi.com
410-795-4626 phone
 410-795-4611 fax

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Another Baby!

Audrey Parrish  
Born Jan. 9, 2014  
7 lbs, 3 oz.; 20 in. 
 
Few events give us as much pleasure to announce as the expansion of the ALWI family.  Baby Audrey, her big brother Dean (now all of two years old), and her parents, Chris and Amy Parrish, are doing well and once again are adjusting to sleepless nights, formula and diapers.

Now a 12 year veteran of ALWI, as a Registered Env. Health Specialist (REHS) and Professional Geologist (PG), Amy manages many of our wastewater discharge projects that entail large septic systems, or spray & drip irrigation disposal.
She also performs Phase I ESAs & Preliminary Transaction Screens.  
Fracking in Maryland?
Marcellus-Shale Gas Drilling Well in Southwestern Pennsylvania
It seems that every year at this time, the State legislature considers one or more bills that renew the ever-present tension between economic development advocates and environmentalists.

This year is no different, as disparate interest groups are sparring over whether enhanced gas and oil collection and recovery measures (known as fracking) should be allowed, restricted or entirely prohibited in Maryland.

The issues are complex, both technically and philosophically. Our blog touches on some of them in greater detail.  
Upcoming Events
podium_man.jpg  

Mark Eisner has had his abstract accepted for oral presentation  at Northeastern Regional Meeting of the Geological Society of Amer.  Lancaster, PA, March 24, 2014.

His presentation is entitled  "When Applied Hydrogeology, Fiduciary Duty and Professional Ethics Collide: Role of the Consultant in Developer-Funded Public Groundwater Supply Projects in Bedrock Terrain" and builds on his 27+ years of experience with projects of this nature. 
About Us - Read More at www.alwi.com

Advanced Land and Water, Inc. is a hydrogeological and environmental consulting firm with extensive Mid-Atlantic regional experience in water supply and wastewater disposal. Our water supply experience extends to both groundwater and surface water and includes exploration, development, permitting, management and protection of both new and existing supplies. Our wastewater services include soil classification and suitability evaluations, percolation tests, spray and drip irrigation studies, infiltrometer tests, groundwater mounding calculations and nitrate loading assessments. We also provide a diversity of GIS mapping, environmental and other specialty consulting services.