March 2021 Virtual Meeting

Monday, March 8, 2021
6:00 - 7:30 pm

Note: ETGS members will receive an email with info for logging into the meeting.

March Presentation

How to Avoid "Kick the Can" - Get More Out of Your Annual Performance Assessments


Paul Favara, Jacobs, Gainesville, FL, USA (presenter)
Dr. Keith Thomsen, NASA, Canoga Park, CA, USA
Dr. Chuck Holbert, Jacobs, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Kathryn Brown, Jacobs, Redding, CA, USA


Background/Objectives: Many remediation projects regularly assess project performance. Some will consider these assessments "Optimization Light" activities. To provide more consistency in the application of the tenets of optimization, different organizations and industry groups have developed optimization guidance documents. Most of these documents were developed more than 10 years ago. While optimization processes have become standardized, many optimization and project performance evaluation teams overlook several important questions, such as:

1. How much additional mass (contaminant or concentration) removal is required to achieve remediation goals?
2. What is the timeline for reaching contaminant reduction milestones leading to a transition point and achieving cleanup goals?
3. What is the ratio of annual operations and maintenance spending to annual change in the life cycle project forecast?

This presentation will present an overview of the relevance of these questions in assessing annual performance evaluations and optimization projects. As the quality and quantity of information varies for different sites, it is important to know that all the questions cannot be answered, and the degree of confidence in the answers will vary.

Approaches and Activities: Data from published and un-published sources will be presented to represent typical approaches used to present project performance. Typical barriers to addressing the above questions are presented, along with potential solutions that can better help answer the question and qualify the confidence related to the question. A project example at a complex site is evaluated to highlight how uncertainty in contaminant mass can be addressed. Where existing conceptual site model information is driving high uncertainty and prevents decision making, a value-of-information approach is presented to assess the benefit of collecting additional data. A decision flow chart is presented to help optimization practitioners navigate the challenge of the above questions along with a graphical approach that can be used to communicate confidence in optimization decisions.

Results/Lessons Learned: Typical post-remedy monitoring projects only monitor how the remedy is progressing but do not mine existing data or collect additional information that can be used to improve the remedy. Many project sites don't update time of remediation estimates presented in the feasibility study or Record of Decisions. The industry is more focused on assessing concentration changes rather than mass changes. A qualitative statement about the adequacy of current performance is used to project future performance, and lacks quantitation to represent meaningfulness. Cost and performance information is usually separate from annual report assessments, so the question number 3 is rarely asked. While generating mass estimates can be challenging, they can be represented with uncertainty to allow decision makers the ability to understand the conditions of which favorable and unfavorable investments could be made. All of these findings represent challenges in making optimization decisions. The decision flow chart and graphical presentation presented will help project decision makers understand when they are "kicking the can", making progress, or lack appropriate information for good return-on-investment decision making.


Paul Favara, PE, LEED Green Associate. Paul Favara is a Technology Fellow and Client Solution Leader for Site Remediation at JACOBS. He has over 30 years of experience in site characterization, remediation engineering, and implementing site cleanup remedies. Paul's work focuses one development of innovative remediation solutions for complex sites, quantitative decision analysis, and life cycle assessment. He is on the Remediation Journal Editorial Advisory Board and a past president of the Sustainable Remediation Forum (SURF). Paul is a professional engineer in the State of Florida and a LEED Green Associate; he works in Gainesville, FL. He received his BS from Western Michigan University in Business Oriented Chemistry and MS in Environmental Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Greetings, and welcome to the March 8, 2021 ETGS virtual meeting. We hope you, your family, and your colleagues are staying healthy and well. 

As a courtesy, please mute your cell phone or the microphone in your laptop/tablet to minimize background noise and feedback echoes. We will try to mute all participants until the presentation is finished. Please use the chat feature to type comments or questions during the presentation. We recommend that you send questions for the speaker to "everyone" so all participants can see the question. After the presentation, the speaker will answer questions.  During this Q&A period, you may unmute if you wish to ask a question verbally.

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Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue adapting to this virtual format. As always, we welcome and appreciate your feedback and suggestions for improvement.



Page updated March 05, 2021