At Spoke, we are specialists in the protection and management of water resources, and the assessment and mitigation of human impacts to soil and water. We see projects in the big picture, and understand that resolution to negative changes to our environment can be a complex undertaking, both socially as well as technically.
Humans depend on water for our daily domestic needs, for transportation, for growing food, for making products that make our lives easier, and for maintaining the environment in which we live. Each of these activities puts a demand on available water, and can affect the quality of water during use.
WHAT CAN SPOKE DO FOR YOU?
We can provide expert technical and regulatory capability missing from your organization. Draw on our staff’s specialized training and experience to support your projects, developments, and environmental obligations, or engage us to interpret environmental data and reports to support your organization’s efforts to manage water resources and soil quality.
INTEGRATED APPROACH TO WATER MANAGEMENT
All water is part of the hydrologic cycle, regardless of whether it is at surface in lakes, rivers, wetlands, or oceans, or is below the surface as groundwater. Spoke offers hydrologic services to help its clients manage and protect water resources. Our hydrologic services cover hydrogeology, surface water quantity, water quality, wetland hydrology, and interactions of groundwater and surface water within water bodies ranging from inland to coastal.
ENVIRONMENTAL SITE ASSESSMENTS
Spoke is a small environmental consulting company offering services including environmental assessments to evaluate industrial impacts to soil and groundwater.
Our staff have worked with clients in many industries, including oil and gas (conventional, unconventional, heavy, and oil sands), fertilizer manufacturing, wood product manufacturing, metals recycling, and commercial and industrial property assessment. We have designed groundwater and soil assessment and monitoring programs to align with provincial regulations.
Spoke can manage your remediation project, to find the right technology given the conditions, and recommend the right amount of remediation to eliminate risks to ecological and human receptors, or minimize risks while working within your available budget.
These projects are only examples of our experience. Please get it touch with us to discuss our experience as it relates to your interests.
CONTAMINATED SITE ASSESSMENT & REMEDIATION
Flare Pit Assessment and Remediation Program
Project: Manage client liabilities associated with impacts to soil and groundwater quality from historical flare pit operation at 28 natural gas well sites west of Whitecourt, Alberta.
Services: Provided client with liaison between several stakeholders of asset liability, improving client communication and overall relationship. Designed soil and groundwater assessment programs in line with Alberta Tier 1 and 2 regulatory guidelines and with stakeholder interests. Interpreted technical data on soil and groundwater quality to identify potential secondary sources and co-mingled impacts, to demonstrate delineation of impacts evaluated against Alberta Tier 1 or Tier 2 risk-based remediation guidelines, and to identify any remaining data gaps. Advised client on required remediation to reduce liability and comply with regulations.
Commercial Strip-Mall with Former Dry-Cleaning Tenant
Project: Tetrachloroethene (‘perc’) was spilled by a past tenant at a commercial strip-mall in suburban Calgary, causing localized soil and groundwater impacts. Third-party assessment work had been conducted, but remediation was not complete. Client had inherited the property and wanted to understand the environmental conditions, their obligations, and any potential risks to neighbours
Services: Reviewed third-party technical documents and historical correspondences. Explained to
the client the contaminant situation, past stakeholders, potential source areas, migration pathways, and past efforts in assessment and remediation. Identified new potential cause /rationale for contaminant migration pattern. Guided client through Alberta regulations, explained their obligations and potential risks to receptors (human and environmental), and recommended next steps that would fit within their budget.
Former Metals Recycling Facility
Project: Client owned industrial property within inner-city Calgary. Their tenant had continued to operate a metals-recycling business purchased from the client, but went bankrupt. The provincial environmental regulator expressed concern based on 10-year-old soil quality information, and mandated an update to site characterization and follow-up remediation, if necessary.
Services: Met and fostered a positive relationship with the environmental regulator, on behalf of the client. Planned and managed a phase 2 environmental site assessment to delineate impacts to soil and groundwater quality that received approval from the regulator. Developed risk-based remediation objectives, and gained regulator approval for the objectives and remediation plan. Managed the schedule, budget and technical aspects of the remediation program to remove contaminated near-surface soils at Site, remove a source area, and document soil quality at the property periphery. Challenges to the project were the need to complete the remediation work under frozen conditions to meet client schedule, and discovery of buried materials and soil conditions not identified as part of the assessment program.
INDUSTRIAL AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECT APPLICATIONS
Supplemental Information Requests – In-Situ Bitumen Recovery Project Applications
Project: Two client companies had submitted project applications with third-party consultants for in-situ bitumen recovery projects in northern Alberta for regulatory review. The review committee had responded with supplemental information requests for those projects.
Services: Prepared responses to the supplemental information requests regarding hydrogeology and surface water quality. Topics included effects to saline aquifers, potential environmental impacts from thermal mobilization of chemicals in groundwater, release of treated water to the environment, and affects on aquatic ecology.
Environmental Hydrology Support for a Railway Expansion Project Application
Project: Regulatory approval application for expansion of a private, industrial railway in
Services: Assessed potential impacts to local groundwater and surface waters from the expansion. Provided technical communications support (terminology, concepts, and regulations) to the environmental planning team during liaison with the subcontracted civil engineers that designed the stormwater management system.
Hydrogeological Considerations for Flood Mitigation Strategies
Project: Environmental assessment for proposed flood mitigation strategies along the Elbow River, upstream of Calgary, Alberta for the Alberta Flood Advisory Council.
Services: Assessed the potential environmental effects and concerns with respect to groundwater resources associated with the proposed development.
WATER MONITORING PROGRAMS (groundwater, surface water, wetlands)
Groundwater Flow and Hydraulic Conductivity Assessments in Discontinuous Permafrost
Project: Client needed to file annual groundwater monitoring reports for regulatory compliance with operating conditions on their petroleum-products pipeline through the Northwest Territories. Local consultant needed assistance with interpretation of groundwater flow conditions to complete the reporting requirements.
Services: Assessed groundwater flow patterns and interpreted hydraulic conductivity data at two maintenance locations along the major pipeline route. Ground ice levels and seasonal freeze-thaw patterns were considered when assessing potential flow patterns.
Petroleum Impacts to Groundwater in Fractured Bedrock
Project: In the mid-1990s, a third-party consultant discovered an historical petroleum fluid release as part of an environmental assessment program for an operating sour gas plant west of Drayton Valley, Alberta. Contaminated soils were removed, but bedrock was near-surface and the oily fluid had penetrated the fractures. The consultant had extracted groundwater and fluids until no contamination was detectable in sampled groundwater. On-going monitoring in the subsequent years showed return of groundwater contamination and oily fluids. The monitoring program continued each year to monitor groundwater quality. After the plant changed ownership in 2015, the environmental regulator showed renewed interest and concern in the identified groundwater impacts.
Services: Provided technical direction and senior review for the annual groundwater monitoring program reports (2014 through 2016) and light non-aqueous phase liquid (LNAPL) recovery in fractured bedrock. Provided regulatory advice to the new plant owners, and discussed potential approaches to risk mitigation for regulatory compliance. Prepared a remedial action plan on behalf of the client for regulatory review, outlining current risks to receptors, exposure control measures, and plans to investigate costs and feasibility of remediation.
Wetland and Surface Water Monitoring for Impacts from In-Situ Steam Recovery of Bitumen
Project: In-situ bitumen recovery project in northern Alberta. Client was executing a wetland and surface water monitoring program designed by a third-party consultant to assess impacts from industrial operations.
Services: Technical direction for wetland hydrology assessment (including monitoring devices) and water quality interpretation. Recommended review of monitoring locations from a hydrologic perspective. Results revealed some locations were redundant, and others were ineffective at monitoring project effects.
Thermal Effects on Groundwater Quality from Steam Injection for Bitumen Recovery
Project: Client needed to create a groundwater monitoring program to assess and monitor the potential for liberation of arsenic from native sediments into groundwater from increased ground temperature resulting from steam injection for bitumen recovery. Client wanted to understand the potential for development of an arsenic plume, and the risks to aquatic receptors (surface water and aquifers) if an arsenic plume developed.
Services: Developed a risk-based groundwater monitoring program for assessment of baseline (pre-steam) conditions and then subsequent conditions during development of a thermal plume during steam injection. Coordinated efforts of client-chosen team of consulting companies and researchers for physical hydrogeology, geochemistry and risk assessment, encouraging collaboration and communication. Planned and managed the field program to install heat-resistant monitoring wells within the zones of interest, roughly 180 metres below ground.
Development of Groundwater Monitoring Program – Large Bitumen Mine
Project: Client was developing a large bitumen mine in northern Alberta. A condition of their project approval was a proposal for a groundwater monitoring program, and then implementation of that program following regulatory approval.
Services: Prepared a proposal for the groundwater monitoring program, including selection and placement of groundwater monitoring wells, choice of laboratory and field-analyzed chemical parameters, frequency of monitoring, and consideration of phases in mine development for long-term applicability. Included modelling and dewatering aspects provided by third parties. Following approval of the program with no amendments, analyzed the annual monitoring data and prepared reports for regulatory compliance.
GROUNDWATER-SURFACE WATER INTERACTIONS
Surface Water Diversion Structure
Project: Client was proposing capture of surface water runoff from an area with primarily organic soil (peat), for industrial use at an energy project in northeastern British Columbia. Regulatory review committee had responded with questions regarding potential impacts and interactions with groundwater.
Services: Met with the lead water resources engineer to understand the project, proposed diversion, and reviewers’ concerns. Provided technical advice regarding theoretical hydraulic conductivity, water storage, and discharge potentials of peat. Proposed a basic shallow groundwater / water table monitoring program for assessment of groundwater flow direction and potential changes in groundwater levels due to water diversion.
Discharge of Industrially-Affected Groundwater to a River
Project: Client owned land they used to operate as a fertilizer manufacturing facility in a western-Canadian city. A nitrate plume had been identified in groundwater, flowing through a gravel paleo-channel, towards a major river off-site. Regulators were involved, and had expressed concerns regarding potential discharge to the river.
Services: Installed temporary, direct-push piezometers to collect shallow groundwater samples at the point of discharge to the river during low river stage. Field work completed discretely within public recreational areas adjacent to a residential subdivision, after obtaining the necessary permits. Demonstrated a narrow zone of groundwater discharge affected by nitrate. The presence of a golf course between the client’s site and the discharge location complicated the appraisal of responsibility for the nitrate impacts.
WHO WE ARE
Jane Yetter is the owner of Spoke Environmental. She is a professional engineer who specializes in providing advice on preventing and mitigating human impacts to water resources, including aquifers, lakes, rivers, and wetlands. She understands the interactions of groundwater with surface waters, bridging the gap between two traditionally separate fields, and offers this unique expertise to her clients.
Spoke engages with you and your team to understand and manage your environmental commitments and concerns, as they relate to soil and water. Our staff communicate their findings in terms that have meaning to you and your business, and guide you through the complexity of government regulations. We help you maintain our lands and water resources for communities and businesses, now and for generations to come.
We can increase your staffing capacity when workloads are high. Your business may share in our expertise and experience, but cannot keep up with demands at peak times of year. Spoke will integrate with your team to ease the stress on your employees, and keep your business on track to meet its deadlines and commitments.
We pride ourselves on our client engagement. We listen to understand their goals, concerns, and values, before we recommend a service or approach. We like to work closely with our clients, becoming a part of their team, to help them achieve their goals.
We can provide a local presence on north-central Vancouver Island and the Powell River area. Reduce your transportation costs for site visits by retaining our staff from Courtenay, British Columbia.
Jane was part of a team we engaged to manage a set of liabilities in our portfolio. In meetings with our team and with our industrial stakeholders, she demonstrated leadership and authority on our behalf, was well-prepared, knowledgeable about the project, and always organized. Jane worked to keep our stakeholders content, while maintaining respect for our interests. Her technical and regulatory expertise was apparent, and I would recommend her for any project of this nature.
Kim Materi, Managing Director, Operations
I retained Jane Yetter at IEL to undertake the remediation of the property occupied by my former scrap metal facility about 6 months ago.
I have been very impressed with Jane’s work on my behalf, and in particular: Her organizational skills - she obviously knew what needed to be done, who to contact, and how to present the project to the stakeholders especially so I would understand what was involved;
Her expertise - any questions from the regulators, contractors, or myself were answered easily and with authority; Her professionalism - I was impressed with her preparation and how she was received by the regulators and contractors we met with;
Her deportment - she is very cool and calm especially when she needed to present me with her concerns on unexpected additional costs and delays. Jane showed great care, consideration, and respect for me throughout and I would not hesitate in recommending her for this work.