LandWatch monitors for safe reuse of contaminated properties certified for “conditional
reuse” by helping to assure that these conditions, known as institutional controls
and engineering controls, remain met. Effective implementation of these controls
protects the public and the environment, satisfies federal and state statutes, and
limits landowner liability. The system now is applied at approximately 600 sites
around the U.S. spanning more than 500,000 acres from corner gas stations to large
federal facilities and Superfund sites.
After years of refinement, the LandWatch efficiently searches and sifts the “electronic
trail” of hundreds of land activity and land uses to, as some have put it, “get
the right information to the right people at the right time” and in doing so helps
to prevent or swiftly stop land actions that would be unsafe and/or trigger liability
exposure at IC sites.
More and more cleanups rely on institutional controls or “ICs” and the monitoring
of ICs is more important than ever. Every day, property is bought and sold, leased,
foreclosed, or made the subject of bankruptcy. People and companies build new buildings,
excavate and grade for new construction, parking garages, houses, and pools. Municipalities
and utility companies dig to repair or lay utility lines and to fix streets. New
daycares become licensed for occupancy, and hospitals, schools, and elder care homes
get sited. And the list goes on and on.
For reasons as varied as IC stakeholders, all involved need “the right information
at the right time” and, thus, need to know how ever-occurring land activities compare
to the increasingly prevalent ICs. Those building or digging need to know that ICs
exist, the activities they prevent, the disposal obligations assumed, and the residual
risks they pose. Regulators need to know, so they can enforce ICs or otherwise assure
compliance. Landowners and responsible parties need to know to both keep people
safe and to avoid liability exposure, which could trigger the need for more cleanup
or a demand to compensate those unwittingly exposed to site risks. Local governments
need to know so they can be properly informed when planning for land use and issuing
permits. With the knowledge that IC monitoring and alerting provides, LandWatch
helps prevent or swiftly stop unsafe activities.
- A regulatory agency uses LandWatch to achieve its mandate to show the locations
of institutional controls.
- Another regulatory agency uses LandWatch to monitor land activities across a state-wide
portfolio of institutional controls to ensure compliance.
- A responsible party uses LandWatch to manage a institutional controls at a site
that spans hundreds of parcels.
- Another responsible party helps assure compliance across portfolio of institutional
controls applied to satisfy cleanup obligations.
- A local government uses LandWatch to deliver on commitments for safe redevelopment
of contaminated land.
How Does LandWatch Work?
LandWatch works as an IC file cabinet and an IC smoke alarm, by continually sifting
through hundreds of sources of land activity and land sales information to find
any that might conflict with ICs. And after years of refinement, this process increasingly
becomes more and more efficient. An entire year of continuous IC monitoring typically
costs about the same as a one-time site visit.
Site Set-Up and Mapping
Whether a single site, a national portfolio, or a state-wide IC universe, Terradex
builds web-based maps of “my sites” and for each one, individual site sentinels
contain all the core IC information needed for IC management. The site sentinels
draw upon web-accessible IC registries or maps, but takes them further to prepare
site maps and IC details with the level of specificity needed for IC monitoring.
It maps the boundaries of the ICs (often there are many ICs). It inventories the
restrictions within each boundary. It identifies activities of potential concern,
such as, excavations below 10 feet, land sales, or zoning changes (often all qualify
as of concern). It prepares an “alert list,” typically a client-specified list of
those who need to be notified, as well as their role in the case of an alert. Finally,
setup maps “Soft ICs” if they exist. This IC file cabinet holds the crucial IC information
and serves as the platform against which IC monitoring occurs.
IC Monitoring & Alerts
With the exception of illegal activities, nearly all land activity and sales involve
an “electronic trail” that LandWatch continuously monitors. Depending on the IC,
the various pieces of “electronic trail” data prove more or less relevant and valuable,
often leading to a customized monitoring list for each site. As Table 1 summarizes,
these “electronic trail” sources divide into (1) Sales and Transaction Monitoring
and (2) Activity, Use, and Occupancy Monitoring, with new sources arising all the
time. Even when ICs run with the land, new owners often remain unaware (or less
aware) and regulators often demand notice of land sales, thus Sales and Transaction
Monitoring alerts parties to the transaction and/or regulators and responsible parties
so that all become aware of the transaction and the IC restrictions that flow (or
may not flow) to the new owners or interest holders. During the time between transactions,
which can be many years, Activity, Use, and Occupancy Monitoring detects land activities,
ranging from large scale demolitions and remodeling, to new childcare occupancies,
to small repairs of sewer pipes, that could conflict with ICs.
Terradex applies its patented technology to continually search the web, sift through
the “electronic trail”, compare it to IC restrictions, and, if a conflict appears
to exist, LandWatch sends alerts to a pre-designated list of alert recipients -
the site stakeholders for each site. The “alert” usually comes as an e-mail while
at the same time remains flagged as “open” until it is “closed” by someone who LandWatch
has pre-designated as being authorized to close alerts - typically the environmental
professional or responsible party. In addition to alerting these parties, LandWatch
often (depending on the site and the activity) sends notice to the person who would
conduct the conflicting activity, such as an excavator. This notice goes out as
a fax or smart phone message and informs the party of site risks and contact information
for more details.
Terradex LandWatch serves as a “smoke alarm,” detecting imminent land activities,
alerting just to the unsafe activities, and ultimately preventing damage and health
impact associated with the breach of an IC.
In addition to the smoke alarm, LandWatch records every land activity “event” and
all that rise to “alert” status, so users can quickly view and print reports showing
the “electronic trail” that was monitored, land activity events at and around the
site, alerts (if any), and the resolution of any alerts. This IC compliance record
goes into the site’s file cabinet, and is used to inform or populate compliance
reports and IC certifications. For those with site portfolios (or regulators with
jurisdiction over many sites), this record also allows for comparison of trends
and performance metrics, helping to show, for example, sites with an apparent greater
risk of IC conflicts.
As a business, Terradex’s IC monitoring is establishing a key role operating between
those parties vested in an IC’s success: local government, regulatory agencies,
responsible parties and landowners. The service is found most relevant for those
parties not having day-to-day contact at the site, and duties encompass remote site
portfolios. With the increase of IC sites monitored by Terradex, the monitoring
efficiency has increased and fees have lowered. Terradex’s business trajectory aligns
well with emerging IC duties that can be perpetual and are often underfunded.