Skip navigation
Tribal Energy and Environmental Information Clearinghouse
Tribal Energy and Environmental Information Clearinghouse: Environmental resources for tribal energy development
Energy Resources Assessments & Monitoring Laws & Regulations
Energy Resources Assessments & Monitoring Laws & Regulations |  Home  |  News  |  FAQ  |  Glossary
Document Library
Federal and Tribal Contacts

Water Resources Mitigation Measures

Mitigation measures to avoid or reduce water resource impacts from biomass energy development.

The following are examples of mitigation measures that could be applied to reduce water resource impacts of a project depending upon site- and project-specific conditions. Impacts to water resources are related to the project activities (e.g., land disturbance, erosion, changes in runoff patterns, and hydrological alterations), project emissions (e.g., sediment runoff and water releases), and resource use (e.g., water extraction). Many impacts can be reduced or avoided when considered during the siting and design phase.

Develop a final set of mitigation measures for any project in consultation with the appropriate federal resource management agencies and stakeholders. Conduct these consultations early in the project development process and preferably prior to final project siting and design.

Siting and Design Mitigation Measures

Siting and design considerations that mitigate impacts include:

  • Identify and avoid unstable slopes and local factors that can cause slope instability (groundwater conditions, precipitation, seismic activity, slope angles, and geologic structure).
  • Research local hydrogeology. Identify areas of groundwater discharge and recharge and their potential relationships with surface water bodies and groundwater quality. Avoid creating hydrologic conduits between two aquifers.
  • Develop a contingency plan to prevent potential groundwater and surface water contamination.
  • Develop a stormwater management plan to ensure compliance with regulations and prevent off-site migration of contaminated stormwater or increased soil erosion.
  • Minimize the planned amount of land to be disturbed as much as possible. Use existing roads, borrow pits, and quarries.
  • Locate access roads to minimize stream crossings and to minimize impacts where crossings cannot be avoided.
  • Use special construction techniques in areas of steep slopes, erodible soils, and stream crossings.
  • Construct drainage ditches only where necessary. Use appropriate structures at culvert outlets to prevent erosion.
  • Incorporate on-site wastewater treatment to treat process wastewater that can then be recycled.

General Mitigation Measures

General mitigation practices and principles that could apply to any or all phases of a biomass energy project include:

  • Apply erosion controls (e.g., jute netting, silt fences, and check dams) relative to possible soil erosion from vehicular traffic and during construction activities. Regularly monitor rights-of-way (ROWs), access roads, and other project areas for indications of erosion.
  • Reclaim or apply protective covering (e.g., vegetative cover) on disturbed soils as quickly as possible.
  • Clean and maintain catch basins, drainage ditches, culverts, and trash racks regularly.
  • Refuel in a designated fueling area that includes a temporary berm to limit the spread of any spill.
  • Use drip pans during refueling to contain accidental releases and under fuel pump and valve mechanisms of any bulk fueling vehicles parked at the project site.
  • Limit herbicide/pesticide use to nonpersistent, immobile herbicides/pesticides.

Project Phase-Specific Mitigation Measures

Mitigation measures specific to a particular phase of a biomass energy project include:

Biomass Production

  • Displace annual crops with perennial biomass crops to reduce runoff, decrease soil erosion, and improve water quality.
  • Utilize no-till agriculture to increase water infiltration and reduce runoff of sediments, fertilizers, and pesticides to nearby water sources.


  • Save topsoil removed during construction. Use the topsoil to reclaim disturbed areas upon completion of construction activities whenever possible.
  • Avoid creating excessive slopes during excavation and blasting operations.
  • Monitor construction near aquifer recharge areas to reduce potential contamination of the aquifer.
  • Dispose of excess excavation materials in approved areas to control erosion and minimize leaching of hazardous materials.
  • Impose site-specific Best Management Practices, potentially including silt fences, hay bales, vegetative covers, and diversions, to reduce impacts to surface water from the deposition of sediments beyond the construction areas.

Decommissioning/Site Reclamation

  • Develop and implement a decommissioning plan that includes the removal of all aboveground facilities, including intake and discharge structures.
  • Reestablish the original grade and drainage pattern to the extent practicable.
  • Restore the banks of water bodies to their natural condition.
  • Backfill any foundations and trenches, preferably with excess excavation material generated during construction.