Progress Toward Restoration
Confirming the Status of Restoration Efforts
Implementation efforts can often exceed 10- to 20-year periods, during which environmental conditions and scientific understanding can change. Because environmental monitoring can reveal the response of ecosystems to remedial actions that have been designed to restore beneficial uses, the Remedial Action Plans may need to be adjusted based on the observed environmental responses.
As scientific knowledge advances, restoration targets, where they exist, also change. For example, environmental and health impacts of new contaminants, or lower doses of already known contaminants, are the subject of numerous studies and government directives, including fish advisories. Accordingly, restoration targets must be updated to reflect the latest research, and remedial strategies may need to be adapted to accommodate new knowledge.
Environmental monitoring is clearly required to ensure that remedial measures are resulting in the intended ecosystem recovery. As the Commission sought information for this report, it became evident that few Remedial Action Plan practitioners could estimate the degree to which the local environment was responding to remedial actions taken, partly because monitoring is insufficient to provide this information.
Approximately three-quarters of the United States Areas of Concern do not have restoration targets against which to compare changes in environmental conditions. Without these restoration targets, it is impossible for the Commission to evaluate progress or to assess restoration efforts.