Ecological Risk Assessments
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 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:
- Guidance for Conducting Ecological Risk Assessments at Remediation Sites in Texas (currently under revision). This is the agency's main ERA guidance document.
- Common Issues Encountered During the Review of ERAs. This position paper presents staff opinions on the most commonly seen problems with ERAs.
- List of Helpful Web Sites. These Web pages provide additional guidance, data, and other useful information for developing ERAs.
Questions? Contact Us
For answers to your questions about these documents or the ERA Program itself, call either of these staff members:
- Larry Champagne (512/239-2158)
- Vickie Reat (512/239-6873)
Or contact us via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 current agency rules, as well as the ERA requirements of the Texas Risk Reduction Program (TRRP) rule that was under development. The TRRP rule became effective in September 1999 and the agency released Guidance for Conducting Ecological Risk Assessments at Remediation Sites in Texas in 2001. This guidance provides a detailed description of how to conduct ERAs using TCEQ's three-tiered approach. It also identifies the participation and coordination processes with the Natural Resource Trustee Programs and outlines methods for establishing ecologically-protective concentration levels for chemicals of concern. Case studies, appendices, and attachments are also included for illustrative purposes.
Additional ERA Resources
Use the update to the ecological screening benchmarks portions of the main ERA guidance titled January 2006 Update to Guidance for Conducting Ecological Risk Assessments at Remediation Sites in Texas RG-263 (revised) when developing an ERA for TCEQ review. As these revisions are only for specific sections of the ERA guidance document, the remainder of the original guidance is still valid.
Since the issuance of the main ERA guidance in 2001, there continues to be many common problems observed during the review and comment process on ERAs submitted to the agency. With this in mind, the ERA Program staff has developed Position Paper on Common Issues Encountered During the Review of Ecological Risk Assessments to share staff positions on the most commonly seen problematic issues when reviewing ERAs. When used in concert with the agency's ERA guidance (and updates), this issue paper will provide more specific insight on common pitfalls to avoid during the development of an ERA.
The ERA staff has also compiled a List of Helpful Web Sites for anyone developing an ERA. This list contains links to many sources of useful ERA information, including threatened/endangered species information.