What is environmental consulting? Simply put, it is helping you navigate environmental regulations when you build. Are you building a multi-family project, or a road, house, school, park or neighborhood? We can tell you what you need to consider before you develop a property. We study the water, endangered species, geology, potentially hazardous materials, archeology and cultural resources.
A natural resources biologist can help you identify if there is a likelihood that water is flowing or will flow through your property. These are called wetlands and jurisdictional waters. Just because you don’t see anything at first doesn’t mean you can put any building anywhere on your property. The Clean Water Act (Section 404) regulates “fill” material that goes into Waters of the U.S. (the diagram below references what is considered “Waters” of the U.S.). This Act protects aquatic resources and is regulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Water resource projects include: dams and levees, highways, airports, and mining projects. Some farming and forestry activity is exempt. The Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (Sections 9 and 10) regulates the creation of any obstruction including “fill” material into navigable waters. This protects navigation and is regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard and the USACE.
The golden-cheeked warbler is one example. These birds spend the winter in Mexico and migrate to Texas in the springtime for their breeding season. The Balcones Canyonlands Preserve in Travis County is a national wildlife refuge for this species. Another endangered bird is the black-capped vireo. These birds prefer breeding ground that is low-growing and woody. There are also multiple types of salamanders that live in the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone. This zone includes areas of Williamson, Travis, Hays, and Bexar counties. Salamanders thrive in shallow parts of gently running springs.
aci’s scientists are permitted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to perform surveys for:
- Golden-cheeked warbler
- Black-capped vireo
- Barton Springs
- Austin blind
- Jollyville plateau
Endangered Karst Invertebrates:
- Ground beetle
- Helotes mold beetle
- Cokendolpher cave harvestman
- Robber Baron Cave meshweaver
- Madla cave meshweaver
- Bracken Bat Cave meshweaver
- Government Canyon meshweaver
- Government Canyon Bat Cave spider
- Tooth Cave spider
- Tooth Cave pseudoscorpion
- Bee Creek Cave harvestman
- Kretschmarr Cave ground beetle
- Bone Cave harvestman
- Coffin Cave mold beetle
- Houston Toad
Geology is the science that deals with the earth’s physical structure, its history, and its composition. In practical terms, geology is important for mineral and hydrocarbon exploration, evaluating water resources, understanding of natural hazards, the remediation of environmental problems, and providing insights into climates.
Locally, the geologically unique Edwards aquifer serves as an important resource to central Texas as it is a primary source of drinking water. When clients are interested in building within the Edwards aquifer Recharge Zone, aci geologists will survey the property for karst features (caves, solution cavities, sink holes, and solution enlarged cavities to name a few) that recharge the aquifer. aci geologists evaluate these features to determine their sensitivity and apply innovative buffers that are both economically and environmentally responsible.
We research historic information about a property to help developers know what they may need to consider before buying or developing a property. These environmental due diligence surveys are called Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESA). A bank, for instance, would want to know if a property of interest would require extensive environmental investigation and remediation due to a leaking underground storage tank from a historic gas station or if the soil contaminated with arsenic or other heavy metals connected to dated agricultural practices. aci’s scientists have conducted hundreds of Phase I ESAs all over the country on sites ranging from undeveloped agricultural land to large industrial sites.
Archeology & Cultural Resources:
aci provides comprehensive cultural resource services necessary to comply with State and Federal law for variety of projects, including linear projects (highway, gas and water pipelines, power lines), bridge replacement, town planning, recreation planning. Services include: fieldwork, compliance coordination; specialized research; laboratory and collections management; publications and presentations; and policy planning.
Other services include: