About

Tioga is a Native American word that means “at the fork.” You can look at this two ways: where a river divides or where two streams converge. We prefer the latter. Because to us, Tioga is a mindset — working together with you to determine your ideal solutions.

Working with Tioga, you’ll have a complete team of environmental professionals and technicians at your disposal. So no matter what your project, you can access the specific expertise you need to take proper care of it. All through a single point of contact.

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News

Erosion is a continual issue in environmental science. Contributing factors include climate change, construction of new developments and other human activities. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, eroded soil endangers water resources by reducing water quality and causing siltation in aquatic habitats for local species. Repairs to sewer lines and stormwater drainage systems may also be more frequent as a result of erosion. In construction, improper clearing and grading can cause the loss of native vegetation necessary for the surrounding terrestrial and aquatic habitats.

At Tioga, we assist clients with reducing their environmental impact in several ways, and erosion is no exception. Throughout the due diligence, design and construction phases, erosion control is a major component. Several years ago, we discussed the importance of erosion control and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s regulations surrounding it. Now, we take a deeper dive into what projects and developments require erosion control to help safeguard the environment and comply with national and state laws.

NPDES ​Stormwater Construction Permit

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System requires a General Permit for Discharges of Stormwater Associated with Construction Activities, or CGP, for construction sites that involve “clearing, grading or excavation” of one or more acres of land. Examples of such projects are housing subdivisions, industrial buildings, utility lines and roads. To get approval for a CGP, applicants need to complete a Notice of Intent for Construction Activity that clearly outlines the site and construction area and identifiers that indicate areas of receiving water and stormwater.

Because stormwater runoff from construction sites can cause significant harm to rivers, lakes and coastal waters, the NOI must also include a site-specific Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan. This document identifies activities and conditions at the construction site that could cause water pollution. In the document, the construction operator describes the activities the construction team will do to prevent stormwater contamination and control sedimentation and erosion.

Inspections During Construction

Inspections at permitted construction sites are required twice weekly, at least 72 hours apart, throughout the time that soils are exposed or disturbed at a project. TDEC requires certification through the Fundamentals of Erosion Prevention and Sediment Control Level 1 course. Based on these inspections, inadequate control measures or those in disrepair must be replaced, modified or repaired.


Erosion control is critical to not only a project’s success, but also to the protection of our natural resources. Tioga has the in-house capabilities to provide permitting and inspections related to erosion control. To find out if your next project requires a CGP, contact our team today.

Posted by Christina Babu at 01 October 2022

by Maggie Strom

As I worry over whether this empty peanut butter container is clean enough, I thought it was finally time to put together a set of easy-to-follow directions on how to “Recycle Right” in Shelby County, Tennessee. It has gotten complicated over the past few years, and while I’ve recycled since I was a little kid, even I’m confused these days.

In general, if you live in Shelby County, you can recycle the following containers, but remember the three keywords: clean, empty and dry.

CLEAN, EMPTY AND DRY

While it’s important that containers are clean before you recycle them, they don’t need to be spotless. The goal is to make sure they are clean and dry enough to keep them from contaminating the rest of the recyclables, like paper. In other words, just because you can’t get any more ketchup out of that container, it doesn’t mean it’s ready for the recycle bin. You NEED to rinse it out.

So, give your recyclable containers a rinse, then tap out the excess water. And yes, you DO have to work a little harder on those containers of sticky stuff, like my peanut butter container. If your container just won’t get clean, throw it out. You don’t want to contaminate the whole truckload.  

PAPER

Paper is pretty straight forward: clean, dry paper can be recycled. If it gets wet in the rain in your bin, it’s no longer recyclable. If your paper has any kind of coating or contamination, throw it away. Here are some dos and don’ts:

Recycle this paper:

Flat cardboard
Cereal boxes
Newspaper
Office paper
Magazines
Mail

Do not recycle this paper:

Any wet paper
Waxy paper
Paper with a plastic coating
Takeaway drink cups
Boxes from frozen food with a wax coating
Shredded-paper – it wrecks the machinery
Pizza boxes

PLASTIC

The little number inside the recycle symbol tells you what kind of plastic you have. Numbers 1 and 2 are hard plastics and the easiest to recycle. You should also recycle #3, #4, #5, #6 and #7 plastics. These are commodities, and workers at the sorting facilities want them all so they can separate them and send them to the right place for recycling.

You cannot recycle plastic bags at home, so don’t bag your recyclables or put plastic bags in your bin. Instead, take them to the grocery store and look for bag recycling bins in the lobby.

And what about lids?  Lids are often made of #5 plastic and are different from their respective container. In our community, it’s recommended that you remove all lids from your recyclables.

METAL

Metal has the same potential contamination issues as plastic. Make sure it’s empty, clean and dry. In general, food containers are made of steel or aluminum and are great to recycle. However, you cannot recycle random metal objects like bicycles, swing sets, tools or paint containers. Stick with containers and you can’t go wrong.

GLASS

Keep recycling glass and yes, the same rules apply – clean, empty and dry! Sometimes there are metal or plastic lids on glass. To keep this recycling stream clean, take off those metal and plastic lids and give them a good rinse before putting them in your bin separately.  your container will be open, make sure you have it pretty clean because you don’t want to contaminate your bin.

EASY RECYCLING RULES

●    All recyclables must be CLEAN, EMPTY and DRY.
●    Recycle paper.
●    Recycle plastic, metal and glass containers.
●    Plastic containers = Lids on
●    Glass containers = Lids off

RESOURCES

City of Memphis Recycling Guide
City of Germantown Recycling Guide (Plastics #1, #2, #4, #5 and #7)
City of Collierville Recycling Guide (Plastics #1 and #2 only)
City of Bartlett Recycling Guide (Plastics #1-7)
City of Millington Recycling Guide
 

Posted by Maggie Strom at 06 September 2022

We at Tioga prioritize safety in any workplace. Protocols should be in place to protect employees, not just to respond if and when injuries, or worse, occur. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s annual Safe + Sound Week is Aug. 15-21. The week is a reminder of how employers, project managers and site supervisors can proactively implement safety and health programs that identify and manage workplace hazards throughout the year. 

In the long-term, workplace safety and health programs can help businesses improve their sustainability and competitiveness. We discussed extensively about practicing heat safety during the summer months, but here are other conditions to evaluate on your worksite or facility before sending workers on the job.

Heights

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, falls are the leading cause of death in the construction field. Before workers come onto a site, employers must plan projects ahead of time with safety remaining a priority. Decide how the job will be done, what tasks will be involved, and what safety equipment may be needed to complete each task, such as the appropriate types of ladders, scaffolds and harnesses. Additionally, employers must train all workers on properly setting up and safely using all equipment they’ll use on the job.

 

 

Hazardous materials and toxins

Injuries and illnesses at manufacturing facilities, chemical plants and similar worksites may result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical and mechanical exposure. Personal protective equipment is designed to help minimize exposure to such hazardous materials. Equipment includes items such as gloves, safety glasses and shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats and respirators. Coveralls, vests and full body suits may also be required. 

Employers should guide workers to ensure their equipment properly fits them (learn how to conduct a fit test for respirators). Training workers on how to properly wear and maintain the equipment is equally important.

Sound

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 22 million workers annually are exposed to potentially damaging noise. This can result from constant sound exposure on a construction site with heavy machinery, an airport tarmac or even an entertainment venue. 

How do you know if a site is too loud? OSHA says if you need to raise your voice to speak to someone standing just three feet away, then noise levels might be over 85 decibels. You can also invest in a sound-measuring instrument or download the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Sound Level Meter app on your smartphone to detect noise levels in a workspace. 

Work sites with noise exposure at or above 85 decibels for an average of eight working hours are required to implement a hearing conservation program, which is designed to prevent initial occupational hearing loss, preserve and protect remaining hearing. These programs equip workers with the knowledge and hearing protection devices, or HDPs, necessary to safeguard themselves.


Safety is one of the nine values we emphasize within Tioga’s culture, and we encourage all businesses to prioritize safety throughout their teams. Our team can develop OSHA-compliant safety programs, provide training and even audit existing programs to determine whether you are meeting all current safety requirements. To get started, contact us today.

Posted by Christina Babu at 01 August 2022

by Ben Day, Senior Environmental Specialist

In March 2021, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act. This act provided $1.9 trillion in relief for state and local governments, hard-hit industries and communities targeted for funding a comprehensive COVID-19 response plan, delivering relief to working families, supporting struggling communities and protecting against future cyberattacks. Notable for Tioga’s clients, the ARP Act provides local governments and partnering developers and associates wide latitude to identify investments in housing, water, stormwater and sewer infrastructure that are of the highest priority for their communities, which may include projects on privately-owned infrastructure. 

Eligible water and sewer infrastructure projects include a wide range of projects that would otherwise be eligible for support through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s State Revolving Fund programs for drinking water and clean water (wastewater) infrastructure. There are 11 project categories under the Clean Water SRF and six under the Drinking Water SRF, including planning and design for capital projects and water quality planning likely to result in a capital project. Additionally, the ARP Act provides homelessness assistance and supportive service programs, such as through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOME program.

In Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is charged with administering the water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure component of the state’s allocation of ARP Act funds. TDEC will award approximately $1 billion in the form of noncompetitive grants to communities for eligible water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure projects as part of the Tennessee Water Infrastructure Investment Program. Similar programs are being administered by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and other surrounding states.

The ARP Act evaluated the issuance of these funds under the National Environmental Policy Act, with a Finding of No Significant Impact. This removes the need for local agencies receiving money to complete additional NEPA environmental reviews unless they are also funded by other federal financial assistance programs or require other federal permitting. However, environmental issues should still be addressed for each project as needed. For example, if the acquisition of a property is involved, a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment should be considered. For installation of new utility lines, a stream and wetland delineation should be performed and the associated permitting should be obtained – but the time and depth of review associated with the NEPA process will not be necessary.

If you need assistance with NEPA reviews, a Phase I ESA or wetland delineations, contact our team today.

Posted by Christina Babu at 01 July 2022

Millions of people live in regions and indoor situations where the air quality can cause serious health problems. Air quality can affect our daily lives, and like the weather, it can change every day. Ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide and other pollutants can cause negative effects on air quality, including threats to human health, despite the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations through the Clean Air Act. Keep reading to learn how to navigate air quality and protect yourself and others from exposure to air pollutants.

Photo by Ludvig Hedenborg from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/smoking-pipes-of-factory-polluting-environment-7001364/

The Air Quality Index

The EPA developed the Air Quality Index, which reports the air quality’s value on a scale of 0 to 500. The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern. The index has six categories and colors that indicate a different level of health concern.

When the AQI is low, below 50, it means the air pollution shows little to no risk to people, and outdoor activities are encouraged. From 101 to 200, the air quality and pollution can have major impacts on those living with serious health and respiratory issues like asthma. The highest end of the spectrum indicates emergency health conditions, during which all people are at serious risk from the air and should remain indoors.

Just like checking the day’s weather conditions and temperature on the internet or on your smartphone, you can find out the Air Quality Index on your weather app and at www.airnow.gov, along with information about whether or not outdoor activities are encouraged.

What causes the AQI to increase?

There are many factors that contribute to poorer air quality. While the ozone layer is essential to protect life from the sun, there is such a thing as “bad ozone,” which is ground-level ozone. According to the EPA, this layer of ozone results from chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds, typically caused by pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, refineries, chemical plants and other sources that chemically react in the presence of sunlight. Ground-level ozone often reaches unhealthy levels in urban environments during hot weather. Wind can also transfer this type of ozone to rural areas, causing the AQI to increase.

Other major pollutants that contribute to a rising AQI are particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. Particulate matter, also known as particle pollution, is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air like dust, dirt, soot or smoke. Sources that emit PM include construction sites, smokestacks and fire, but the major contributors are power plants, industrial facilities and automobiles. 

When the AQI is at dangerous levels and these pollutants are inhaled in great quantities, they can enter a person’s lungs and bloodstream and cause health issues such as heart and lung disease, poor heart conditions and decreased lung function. To minimize exposure to and inhalation of pollutants, keep an eye on the daily AQI and stay indoors as much as possible when levels are deemed unsafe.

What causes poor air quality indoors?

Photo by Sigrid Abalos from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/green-leaf-plant-on-pot-824572/While the EPA recommends staying indoors when the AQI is high, it’s important to consider the factors that can also affect your indoor air quality. Indoor pollution can also have serious side effects on our health. Sources include fuel-burning combustion appliances, tobacco products, toxic household cleaning products, central heating and cooling systems, and excess moisture. Some building materials may even contain asbestos or lead. 

The EPA recommends source control as the most effective way to improve indoor air quality. Determine what negatively impacts the air quality, and then eliminate those individual sources of pollution or reduce their emissions.

Though it can be costly to your energy bill, ventilation also helps remove or dilute indoor airborne pollutants. Opening a window or door and using a window fan or air conditioner unit can help bring in outside air. Bathroom or kitchen fans that exhaust outdoors can also remove contaminants directly from the room. Finally, regularly replace the air filter in your central air system and consider purchasing an air purifier, which can remove particles in a single room. 


As we approach the hot, summer months, be mindful of the daily air quality index. When levels are high, minimize your time outside and consider carpooling to limit emissions from cars.

The EPA has several regulations in place to ensure facilities limit pollutant emissions. Tioga works with industrial and construction clients to assemble permit applications and review preparedness documents to help them remain in compliance with regulations. Our team also assesses buildings with potential presence of asbestos, lead and other hazardous building materials so that indoor air quality is at a safe and healthy level. If you need guidance on compliance regulations and environmental impact, please contact us today. 

Posted by Christina Babu at 01 June 2022

By Luke Hall

Underground storage tanks, or USTs, are extremely prevalent. Prior to the late 1980s, all you needed to install a UST was a tank and a shovel. Little to no regulation or oversight existed at this time, so it was easy to walk away from a UST without closing the tank or making a determination concerning any impact leaks from the tank may have had. In general, USTs are most frequently found in situations where large amounts of fuel need to be stored, such as automotive filling stations, facilities that operate fleets of vehicles, and facilities like hospitals that need the ability to power emergency generators if the electric supply is interrupted. However, the use of USTs is not limited to these applications. Prior to the 1940s, almost every home had a small UST, usually 250 gallons, that stored heating oil. Tioga has uncovered USTs used for old gas stations with no existing record, found massive fleet fueling tanks that property owners didn’t know existed, and even located a 2,000-gallon heating oil tank in a residential yard that was still full of fuel oil. It is not an exaggeration to say that these tanks are everywhere.

Currently, USTs are regulated by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and rules are in place that determine how these tanks are installed, operated, removed or closed. If a tank is regulated, these regulations must be followed. If a tank is not regulated, these requirements are not technically applicable. How do you tell if your tank is regulated or not? The primary indicator of your tanks being subject to TDEC regulations is this: do you or have you ever paid tank fees to the State of Tennessee? If the answer is yes, your tanks are absolutely regulated. If the answer is no, it does not necessarily mean you are the owner of an unregulated tank –certain other requirements must be met as well. If your tank was taken out of service prior to November 8, 1984, then you do not meet the definition of owner consistent with TDEC regulations. In this case, the owner is the person who last owned the tanks prior to discontinuation of its use. In addition, tanks that were used for heating oil storage for boilers are not regulated.

So you just found what you believe to be a UST on your property – what now? First and foremost, stop work immediately. Do not remove the tank and move on with your project. If this tank is regulated, unapproved removal of a tank is a serious issue that will likely result in significant assessment required by TDEC. After the tank is identified and work stops, contact an environmental professional. Tioga has experienced staff to determine if the tank is regulated or not. If it is determined your tank is regulated, you are required to close the tank in conformance with the current TDEC regulations. However, if the tank is not regulated, these regulations do not apply. Tioga always recommends that the tank is closed consistent with TDEC guidelines whether it is regulated or not. This will provide documentation that the tank was properly closed and no environmental risk to human health or safety remains as a result of leaks in the tank. Simply removing a tank from the ground without the proper documentation can lead to multiple questions as to the environmental impact of the tank in the event the property is sold. In addition, if the property is entered in a brownfields program, TDEC will require that the documentation of removal of the tank is provided, regardless of the regulated or unregulated nature of the tank.

USTs are everywhere. If you purchased a property where you find a previously unknown UST is present, it is not the end of the world. Chances are that it is not regulated. However, it is in your best interest to properly document the closure and removal of the tank. If you find yourself in this position, please do not hesitate to contact Tioga. We can help you get it out of the ground and make sure you have the documentation to prove it was removed properly.

Posted by Christina Babu at 03 May 2022