A recently implemented United States federal regulation required that coal combustion residual sites (such as landfills or surface impoundments) monitor their groundwater for coal ash and report their findings annually. This external requirement from governments prompted clients to seek a partner who can help them manage this business risk cost effectively. Compliance with this regulation required similar data management workflow and the same suite of analyses across all power sector clients and facilities; ERM’s subject matter experts in statistical analysis developed a dynamic reporting tool to bring substantial automation to the analysis and reporting.

Our Approach

When designing the reporting tool, ERM recognized the need for reliable, defensible outputs, as coal ash reporting is both highly visible and has the potential to generate lawsuits. This toolkit leveraged ERM’s existing data infrastructure to receive field-collected data in a standardized format. It then automatically executes a decision framework and appropriate statistical analyses consistent with regulatory requirements and US Environmental Protection Agency guidance. Finally, the tool automatically exports pre-formatted tables and figures and a pre-populated written report that can be further customized by the project team.

Benefits and Value

The reporting tool provides a high-value reporting solution to ERM’s clients. Reports generated by the tool are less expensive to produce compared to existing methods, while also providing higher quality outputs. ERM’s approach allows a shift in effort from data preparation to data insights, allowing clients to better manage their liabilities. Using this proactive approach can enhance strategic planning and potentially allow more time for identifying and implementing corrective actions.

This service was first offered to four different utility clients and over 25 facilities in the United States and continues to be the tool used for their reporting. ERM estimates that this tool reduced the labor effort for statistical reporting by more than 50 percent, while simultaneously standardizing our service offerings and reducing the risk of errors.

The customizable nature of the tool means it can be adapted for groundwater monitoring programs in other sectors, in multiple states, and across multiple sites, allowing users to standardize their reporting process across their portfolio.