Soil Monitoring

Development of an Environmental Monitoring strategy and environmental monitoring Baseline Survey of soil resources (Lot 1)

This project (reference code: ERDF 156) was carried out with approved European Commission funding under the “Environmental Monitoring” focus area of Axis 6 of the Operational Programme 1 of the Structural Funds Programme for Malta (2007-2013). It was intended to fulfill a set of strategic capacity building objectives relevant to five priority environmental themes within which information standards were not available to meet national and international cooperation and reporting obligations (soil, air, water, noise and ionizing radiation).

Furthermore, same report  provides an extensive description and evaluation of standard indicators required to appropriately measure and comprehensively evaluate each soil degradation threat.
On their part, Annexes associated with this deliverable also provide the following specific information:

  • a detailed description (that is a working definition, methodology used, analysis against SFD parameters) of proposed indicators associated with the aforementioned soil degradation threats;
  • detailed listing of all soil screening values_ EU rep.PDFsoil screening values and procedural standards adopted in other Member States (that is, the so-called 'limit', 'trigger' and/or 'intervention'  thresholds or clean-up levels that are required for effective monitoring of an extensive set of bio-chemical substances or pollutants) in order to mitigate or even prevent occurrences where there is potential contamination of this non-renewable resource; and
  • the development of a land and groundwater monitoring strategy. An important component of this strategy entails the description of a Conceptual Site Model and preferred testing and evaluation methodology for baseline investigations in relation to land and groundwater contamination within and around installation complexes/ operating plants subject to IPPC regulations and procedures emerging from the Industrial Emissions Directive.

Activity 2 final report also provides information about the soil characterization plan. This incorporates design and implementation of emergency corrective measures (ECMs) in the event preliminary reporting of soil contamination is received. This plan also has a procedure detailing development of a criteria-based sampling program, and planning process required to implement direct surveys (e.g. drilling operational methodology, specification for groundwater monitoring wells).
Annexes to this report also provide detailed guidelines indicating how an appropriate risk analysis (e.g. analysis of contamination exposure routes) shall be carried out. In particular, Annexes 2A and 2B feature a set of guidelines for remediation of contaminated soils through several alternatives of biological treatment technologies (e.g. bioventing, enhance bioremediation, phytoremediation, composting, a nd so on) and physio-chemical treatment (e.g. oxidation, soil vapor extraction, washing, dehalogenation, bioslurping, and so on).
A monitoring procedure for these remediation processess (through sampling methods for in-situ and for ex-situ treatments) is also described within this voluminous final report.
Activity 2  report_Annex 2 A.PDFAnnex 2 A
Activity 2  report_Annex 2 B.PDFAnnex 2 B
Activity 2  report_Annex 2 C.PDFAnnex 2 C
Activity 2 report_Annex 3.PDFAnnex 3

Activity 3: Design of the Programmes
Main document for this phase of the environmental monitoring project, incorporates a detailed definition of the short and long term soil monitoring strategy, the development of a multi-criteria evaluation soil model and subsequently, preferred strategy chosen following analysis conducted on short-term baseline soil monitoring.
Preparation of a tender monitoring plan and related terms of reference were also addressed through this deliverable.
Annexes associated with this deliverable include the following components:

  • a detailed tabulation listing grid-based modelling values outlining soil degradation risk potential over the entire Maltese land-based territory. Established values cover all degradation threats; 
  • a graphic illustration of multi-criteria model used to select investigated monitoring points to be tested during a soil baseline survey (refer to Activity 5);
  • a set of maps showing georeferential information of each monitoring site subdivided by level of assessment required (e.g. basic, general and biodiversity points); and
  • another set of maps indicating monitoring points map_risk areas.PDFlocation of all monitoring points (selected through aforementioned model) superimposed over areas identified as potential high-medium-low risk sites for soil degradation. 
Furthermore, the activity involves the creation of a detailed implementation plan to chart the necessary steps required to establish a national monitoring programme for soil taking into account the current data gathering and reporting methodologies adopted in EU reporting procedures, EEA dataflows and other established and emerging international commitments.

Activity 3 report.PDFMain Report
Activity 3 report_Annex 1.PDFAnnex 1
Activity 3 report_Annex 2.PDFAnnex 2

Activity 3 report_Annex 3.PDFAnnex 3
Activity 4: Feasibility assessment of programmes
This stage of the baseline monitoring programme for the soil theme describes the different phases required to adequately manage the coordination of a Soil Quality Monitoring Network (SQMN). Report also includes a preliminary discussion of the estimated (operational and total) costs required to facilitate future decisions related to facilitating:

  • an in-house technical capacity supported by an appropriate human resource complement;
  • procurement of laboratory facilities (layout, management and operational structure, method validation process, accreditation, and sampling standards), laboratory materials, equipment and instrumentation required to run a comprehensive periodical evaluation of local soil health conditions over the entire Maltese territory;
  • identification of necessary field surveying activities likely to be adopted to standardise future research within this sector in order to manage an ISO 17025-2005 compliance standard for future reporting purposes.

Final Activity 4 report also provides details of operations related to the preparation of potential options for institutional  capacity building  for  continuous soil monitoring (i.e. direct management and autonomy of the whole network (termed as in-house scenario); total sub-contracting management service of the monitoring network and analytical analysis (referred to as the outsourcing scenario) and/or direct management of soil monitoring network and outsourcing of the analytical activities to a laboratory overseas (the hybrid scenario) and proposes the most cost effective scenario from these three options.
Activity 4_lab and cost scenarios report.PDFReport on the setting of a Soil Laboratory and preliminary assessment of operational cost scenarios
Main aim of this part of the aforementioned EU-funded project was the development of cost-effective strategies and programmes which are designed to be efficient and technically feasible. Feasibility study on the Management Information Systems and Executive Information Systems is required for the reporting cycle of the environmental data acquired during the project.
Activity 4_Feasibility assessment of programme.PDFFeasibility assessment of programmes report

Activity 5 : Development of comprehensive monitoring strategies and design of long term monitoring programmes
This deliverable addressed the preparation of operational Terms of Reference to generate primary soil information. These ToR were  prepared in accordance to standard departimental public tendering procedures. Point sampling methodology was the preferred method of data collection adopted during this survey. Examination of a set of physio-chemical and biological parameters, to be tested in 40 monitoring sites, was eventually completed by January 2013.
Deliverable also includes the compilation of a Baseline and Analysis Reports to describe and evaluate all information gathered for the various sub-themes associated with this survey with a view to correlate this data with past local studies. Thereafter, a recommended integrated course of action was established in accordance with the Project’s pre-agreed short term monitoring strategy.


Laboratory Results - Consolidated Certification Reports for monitored sites

Laboratory-based evaluations were performed on soil biotic community present within the four pre-selected monitoring sites. Results were generated in two reports shown below:

Sampld monitoring sites for soil biodiversity_ Microarthropods RESULTS.pdfReport on microarthropods from sampled monitoring sites
Sampled monitoring sites for soil biodiversity_Earthworms RESULTS.pdfReport on earthworms from sampled monitoring sites

Thematic Maps for soil properties within surveyed monitoring points/sites were prepared for the following indicators:

Soils and Radiation

A horizontal report describing sampling data on soil-related ionizing radiation, which formed part of deliverables related to this theme is also included below for ease of reference:

Soil_report_soil ionized radiation.PDFIonized radiation in sampled soils