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Ecological Risk Assessments

Review this page for information on TCEQ's Ecological Risk Assessment Program.

What is an ERA?

TCEQ defines an ecological risk assessment (ERA) as a process that evaluates the likelihood that adverse ecological effects are occurring or may occur as a result of exposure to one or more chemicals of concern (COCs) from a remediation site. According to the Texas Risk Reduction Program (TRRP) rule, some form of an ERA is required to be conducted at all remediation sites in Texas. If you need to develop an ERA, use these resources:

  • DRAFT: Conducting Ecological Risk Assessments at Remediation Sites in Texas Adobe Acrobat PDF Document (Revised January 2014). This is the agency's main ERA guidance (ERAG) document and is usable in its draft form while it continues to undergo revisions.  See History of the ERA Program for additional information.
  • Determining Representative Concentrations of Chemicals of Concern for Ecological Receptors. This guidance (TRRP-15eco) addresses aspects of ecological evaluations currently not discussed in detail in the ERAG and is intended to be used in conjunction with the ERAG.  Topics addressed include: ensuring that data used in ERAs are representative and appropriate for each exposure medium, defining representative concentrations and exposure areas for various ecological exposure pathways, and evaluating potential hot spots.
  • Determining PCLs for Surface Water and Sediment.  This guidance (TRRP-24) describes processes for developing protective concentration levels (PCLs) for ecological (and human) receptors that may be exposed to surface water and sediment affected by chemicals of concern (COCs).  It also provides information for developing source media PCLs for soil and groundwater that may release COCs to surface water and sediment.
  • Common Issues Encountered During the Review of ERAs Adobe Acrobat PDF Document. This paper reflects program staff opinions on how best to address the most commonly encountered problematic issues associated with ERAs.

Questions? Contact Us

For answers to your questions about these documents or the ERA Program itself, call any of these staff members:

Larry Champagne (512-239-2158)
Vickie Reat (512-239-6873)
Jessica Mauricio (512-239-1765)

Or contact us via e-mail at techsup@tceq.texas.gov.

History of the ERA Program

TCEQ's ERA Program was established in 1995 to evaluate ecological reports submitted under various agency remediation programs (e.g., Superfund). In 1996, an Ecological Workgroup comprised of technical experts from industry, government, consulting firms, and academia was formed to assist in developing guidance that would interface with the ecological aspects of agency rules.  The agency first released Guidance for Conducting Ecological Risk Assessments at Remediation Sites in Texas in 2001. This guidance provided a detailed description of how to conduct ERAs using TCEQ's three-tiered approach. It also identified the participation and coordination processes with the Natural Resource Trustee Programs and outlined methods for establishing ecological PCLs for COCs. A January 2006 update revised the ecological screening benchmarks.    The current ERAG is the Draft January 2014 version. This guidance incorporates the 2006 update, revises the screening benchmarks, addresses the 2007 revisions to the TRRP rule, and reflects the TCEQ’s commitment to accessibility. The document is considered “draft” because the ERA Program staff is updating the scientific methodology of the ERA process that will be reflected in an upcoming version.