Environmental Monitoring

Environmental monitoring describes the processes and activities to characterize the quality of the environment. Environmental monitoring is used during infrastructure project planning and design phases, such as in the preparation of Environmental Assessments or feasibility studies, to help establish environmental baseline conditions. Environmental monitoring is also used during infrastructure project construction, operation and maintenance and closure phases for various potential objectives, such as to assess compliance with applicable requirements (e.g., emission or discharge limits), adequacy or effectiveness of environmental mitigation measures, level of environmental impacts (e.g., amount of waste generated) and to measure improvements in project environmental sustainability (e.g., reduction of use of water, energy, materials). Environmental monitoring plans or procedures should define the monitoring objectives, parameters to be measured, sampling locations and frequencies, sampling and analysis methods, quality assurance and quality control, data analysis and reporting methods, and responsibilities and estimated costs. A key to environmental monitoring is the utilization of results to improve environmental management, inform the relevant decision-making processes, and as a means to measure improvements in environmental sustainability.