8.5.1 Systematic Planning

Any type of sampling design (ISM or discrete) should be based on a systematic planning approach to ensure that there are clear objectives and that the data obtained are of sufficient quality to make an environmental decision (see Section 3). Good systematic planning involves a series of well-thought-out steps, but often projects omit this process entirely or miss one or more key elements. The project team needs to continually review and understand the key elements listed below and apply a systematic approach to site investigation to bring the site to completion.

  • Develop the CSM.
  • Identify the COPCs.
  • Identify data info needs. (What is the reason for the sampling, and what is the function of the data?)
  • Determine the need to find hot spots. Agree on concentration and size of hot spot (i.e., volume).
  • Define the DU.
  • Develop decision statements.
  • Develop and implement SAP.
  • Ensure data quality.
  • Control decision error using defensible decision rules.
  • Conduct data assessment and identify environmental hazards.
  • Reevaluate the CSM.

Lack of a clear and concise CSM at the start of a project can lead to confusion and disagreements throughout the planning, implementation, and data assessment phases. The primary objective of most site investigations is to determine the presence or absence of potential environmental hazards associated with environmental contamination. Sampling objectives tie directly to development of the DU and the CSM.

The project team needs to discuss all the systematic planning elements. Experience has shown that some elements are more difficult to develop and agree to than others. Some of the common ISM systematic planning challenges are discussed in the following subsections.