14 Dec The importance of NEPA documentation
When a project will receive or has the potential to receive federal funding, do you know which federal environmental requirements must be satisfied? The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires documentation based on the environmental impact and complexity of the project. Whether your project involves water, wastewater, roadways, sidewalks, greenways, or trails, if federal funding is involved, you need to consider NEPA.
Gary Kreiser is WithersRavenel’s NEPA specialist. With a background in private consulting along with more than 10 years working for NCDEQ’s Division of Water Resources, he’s seen the NEPA process from all angles.
The level of detail for the NEPA process depends on the impacts the project may have, Kreiser told us. An Environmental Impact Document (EID) is required, and considerations can include threatened and endangered species, wetlands and streams, air quality, soils, forest resources and other factors.
Another important consideration is the difference between direct and indirect impacts. While work that must cross a stream would clearly be a direct impact, indirect impacts can be a little trickier.
“If you’re expanding a wastewater treatment plant and more homes will be built, then you have to consider the effects of more traffic and more air pollution,” Kreiser said.
Kreiser said his NEPA responsibilities blend field work and filling out paperwork, along with communication with various regulatory agencies. One day he may be doing a site assessment, walking a project corridor or looking for habitat; the next day he could be filling out forms or on the phone with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Regardless, he emphasizes that clients want to get him involved sooner than later in the process. That’s a key to making sure that agencies are satisfied that design alternatives have been considered and environmental impacts of projects have been weighed.
“Once a project is scoped out, you know the footprint and extent, that’s the time to get me on board,” he said.
Gary has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, a Bachelor of Science in biology from UNC Wilmington, and a Master of Science in soil science from North Carolina State University. He is a licensed Soil Scientist in North Carolina.