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Just the Facts: Licensing, Compliance, & the Role of the State Board of Geologists Applications to the Water Resources Profession in Oregon Steve Taylor,

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Presentation on theme: "Just the Facts: Licensing, Compliance, & the Role of the State Board of Geologists Applications to the Water Resources Profession in Oregon Steve Taylor,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Just the Facts: Licensing, Compliance, & the Role of the State Board of Geologists Applications to the Water Resources Profession in Oregon Steve Taylor, Chair Oregon State Board of Geologist Examiners Associate Professor Geology Western Oregon University

2 Introduction Oregon Geologist Licensure Ethics and Professional Practice Water Resources Connections Conclusion

3 Introduction

4 Geoscience in the U.S. Scientific history rooted in the study of natural resources, river systems are a traditional focus John Wesley Powell: 1869 tour of Grand Canyon 1881 appointed second director of USGS 1881 appointed second director of USGS Geologic studies and topographic mapping Geologic studies and topographic mapping Investigations of rivers and water resources Investigations of rivers and water resources Georef Citations: Keywords “river or fluvial” >198,000 entries dating back to 1801 (AGI, 2007)

5 What is the role of geoscience in the water resource professions? What are the licensing requirements for professional registration? What are examples of unethical or poor professional practice? What are the ethical considerations associated with “overlap practice” on multidisciplinary water resource projects? Focus Questions

6 Oregon Geologist Licensure

7 Purpose of Professional Licensing: To provide 3 rd party validation of the qualifications of an individual practitioner to perform work-related tasks Establish minimum levels of competency and knowledge Establish minimum levels of competency and knowledge Set standards of practice in the community Set standards of practice in the community Promote ethics and accountability Promote ethics and accountability

8 Oregon Board of Geologist Examiners “…safeguards are in the fields of geology as related to engineering, ground water, land use planning, mineral exploration, geologic hazards, and other matters of the state” Licensing laws enacted in 1977 (ORS to ) Board mission: to “safeguard the health and welfare and property of the people of Oregon”

9 Who Are We? Semi-independent board / Governor-appointed Semi-independent board / Governor-appointed Fee supported / self-sustaining Fee supported / self-sustaining 4 professional members, 1 community member, State Geologist serves non-voting ex officio 4 professional members, 1 community member, State Geologist serves non-voting ex officio

10 Board Objectives To license professionals engaged in the public practice of geology To license professionals engaged in the public practice of geology To respond to complaints from the public and profession To respond to complaints from the public and profession To educate the public and communicate with regulatory agencies To educate the public and communicate with regulatory agencies To cooperate with related Boards and Commissions To cooperate with related Boards and Commissions To promote professional ethics To promote professional ethics To provide systematic outreach to counties, cities, and registrants. To provide systematic outreach to counties, cities, and registrants.

11 2009 Board Members Steve Taylor, PhD, RG, Chair (Western Oregon Univ.) Steve Taylor, PhD, RG, Chair (Western Oregon Univ.) Christopher Humphrey, RG, CEG, Vice Chair (USACE) Christopher Humphrey, RG, CEG, Vice Chair (USACE) Rodney Weick, RG, CEG (Oregon DEQ) Rodney Weick, RG, CEG (Oregon DEQ) Mark Yinger, RG (Yinger and Associates) Mark Yinger, RG (Yinger and Associates) Richard Heinzkill, Public Member (Retired UO Librarian) Richard Heinzkill, Public Member (Retired UO Librarian) Vicki McConnell, PhD, RG, State Geologist (ex officio) Vicki McConnell, PhD, RG, State Geologist (ex officio) Susanna Knight, Administrator

12 Organizational Functions License Registrants and Screen Applicants License Registrants and Screen Applicants  Experience & Education  Standardized Examinations Compliance Compliance Interpret Statutes (ORS) Interpret Statutes (ORS) Promulgate Rules (OAR) Promulgate Rules (OAR) Consult with Attorney General’s Office Consult with Attorney General’s Office

13 Certifications Geologist-in-Training (GIT) Geologist-in-Training (GIT) Registered Geologist (RG) Registered Geologist (RG) Certified Engineering Geologist (CEG) Certified Engineering Geologist (CEG)

14 Licensing Requirements Geology-related degree or 45 quarter hrs of geoscience 5 years post-bac. experience Minimum: 70% passing score on nationally standardized exam (ASBOG Exam) Minimum: 70% passing score (ASBOG Exam) GIT RG CEG

15 Standardized Testing Association of State Boards of Geology WA-OR-ID 29 States and Puerto Rico Oregon founding member since 1990 Nationally standardized exams Council of Examiners meets twice annually to review Fundamental and Practice Exams

16 Who must be licensed? Individuals engaged in the public practice of geology: “performance for another of geological service or work” Individuals preparing reports of existing documents and acting as scriveners Individuals preparing reports of existing documents and acting as scriveners Federal employees working on employment-related projects Federal employees working on employment-related projects University professors working on employment- related teaching and research University professors working on employment- related teaching and research Private citizens providing testimony at public hearings as part of their free-speech rights Private citizens providing testimony at public hearings as part of their free-speech rights Exemptions:

17 Compliance Common Complaints Common Complaints  Practice without a license  Unstamped work products  Poor quality workmanship  Fraud, negligence, deceit  Avg. ~8-10 cases/year Enforcement Actions Enforcement Actions  Letter of concern  Peer review and mentoring  Civil penalties (max $1,000 per violation)  License revocation

18 Who files complaints? Peer professionals, reporting from within community; “the geologist shall report” Peer professionals, reporting from within community; “the geologist shall report” Regulatory/permit managers (e.g. DEQ, BLM) Regulatory/permit managers (e.g. DEQ, BLM) Disgruntled clients; opposing public Disgruntled clients; opposing public Anonymous tips, internal board investigations Anonymous tips, internal board investigations

19 Ethics and Professional Practice A clash of ego, competitive markets, and profits…

20 Key Ethical Concepts “public practice of geology” “public practice of geology” “geology”, “engineering geology” “geology”, “engineering geology” “false impersonation” “false impersonation” “false or forged evidence” “false or forged evidence” “deceit: portraying something as true that is untrue: “deceit: portraying something as true that is untrue: “fraud: intentional perversion of the truth” “fraud: intentional perversion of the truth” “negligence: failure to exercise care, skill, and diligence” “negligence: failure to exercise care, skill, and diligence” “gross negligence: reckless disregard for exercising care” “gross negligence: reckless disregard for exercising care” “incompetence: unsuitability for effective action” “incompetence: unsuitability for effective action” “misconduct – violation of laws, rules, or code of ethics “misconduct – violation of laws, rules, or code of ethics “threat to the public health, welfare, or property” “threat to the public health, welfare, or property”

21 License Revocation Case Study Involves geologic consulting work in Salem area, addressing the “Marion County Sensitive Groundwater Overlay (SGO) Zoning ordinance  Goals of SGO: to demonstrate sustainable quantities of groundwater and to avoid adverse impacts to the resource  Property development in SGO Zones (e.g. south and west Salem) < 5 acres - “hydrogeology review” required > 5 acres - no demonstration of water supply required SGO Hydrogeology Review (“level 1” review of existing data)  Property maps, well locations, aquifer characterization, prepare supporting geologic maps and cross-sections, prepare a groundwater budget using existing published recharge rates  If >90% of projected recharge will be used after development, a “level 2” Hydrogeology Study” is required before permitting  If <90% of projected recharge calculated, no further action needed

22 Columbia River Basalt Marine Sedimentary Rocks Qal “Willamette Aquifer” South Salem Hills Domestic Groundwater Supply Hydrogeologic Setting Hillslope surface terrain Valley-margin slopes characterized by landslide terrain and colluvium Precipitation = elevation controlled Miocene Columbia River Basalts (CRB) over Early Tertiary Marine Sedimentary Strata (Ts) CRB = “good aquifer” Ts = “poor quality aquifer” Aquifer supply and recharge rates a function of precip. inputs + CRB polygon area CRB “Marine Sedimentary” South Salem Hills

23 Complaint and Investigation Process RG conducted Hydrogeology Review for client, determined <90% of aquifer recharge would be effected by development RG conducted Hydrogeology Review for client, determined <90% of aquifer recharge would be effected by development Neighbors opposing development filed a complaint of inaccurate work and unethical behavior by RG. Neighbors opposing development filed a complaint of inaccurate work and unethical behavior by RG. Geology Board conducted investigation with peer reviewers; results of investigation: Geology Board conducted investigation with peer reviewers; results of investigation:  Hydrogeology Review did not include adequate geologic map  Not all wells in area were identified and included in analysis  RG allowed the clients to compile well log information  RG skewed precipitation data to achieve the <90% threshold result  RG altered published geologic maps to change map polygon areas  SGO Hydrogeology Review was intentionally biased to favor a positive outcome for the developers (i.e. “geolgist for hire”) Board Action: License Revocation Board Action: License Revocation

24 Other Recent Compliance Examples Consulting soil scientists practicing engineering geology Consulting soil scientists practicing engineering geology Unregistered “environmental consultant” conducting subsurface contamination assessments Unregistered “environmental consultant” conducting subsurface contamination assessments RG making geotechnical recommendations RG making geotechnical recommendations Former USFS employee completing BLM mine permits Former USFS employee completing BLM mine permits Colleagues stamping work with the seal of an RG who was out of the office Colleagues stamping work with the seal of an RG who was out of the office Office manager using a photocopy of an RG stamp Office manager using a photocopy of an RG stamp Web sites of unlicensed environmental consultants claiming expertise with geologic work in the state of Oregon Web sites of unlicensed environmental consultants claiming expertise with geologic work in the state of Oregon Experienced out-of-state geologists practicing in Oregon without a license Experienced out-of-state geologists practicing in Oregon without a license

25 Water Resources Connections: Case Example “River Restoration”

26 Census of U.S. River Restoration Projects National River Restoration Synthesis Database Oregon Plan (OWEB) Outcomes >90 assessments since 1999 ~$180,000,000 in restoration 65 projects/1000 km river length (K. Bierly, (OWEB); Bernhardt et al., 2005)

27 Philosophical Questions in Areas of “Overlap Practice” What is the “practice of geology”? What is the “practice of geology”? What is engineering geology? What is engineering geology? What is engineering? What is engineering? How do hydrology and physical geography fit in? How do hydrology and physical geography fit in? What about “environmental science”? What about “environmental science”?

28 Is applied fluvial geomorphology part of the geoscience profession? civil engineering? geography? Is applied fluvial geomorphology part of the geoscience profession? civil engineering? geography? Is log placement for habitat restoration in stream channels applied fluvial geomorphology? engineering geology? civil engineering? or a combination of all of the above? Is log placement for habitat restoration in stream channels applied fluvial geomorphology? engineering geology? civil engineering? or a combination of all of the above? Where does ecological engineering fit in? What about water resources engineering? Where does ecological engineering fit in? What about water resources engineering? More questions for thought…

29 Watershed Systems Characterized by geology, landforms, and climate Affected by local biotic and abiotic influences Comprised of multivariate subsystems with interdependent process-response mechanisms Watershed Assessment Objectives Identify features and processes important to fish habitat Determine the influence of natural processes Understand human activities and evaluate effects of land management OWEB (1999) Watershed Assessment Manual River management projects require a multi- disciplinary team approach

30 Watershed Project Activities Involving the Practice of Geology Map / air photo interpretation of geologic features Map / air photo interpretation of geologic features Geologic and geomorphic mapping Geologic and geomorphic mapping Geomorphic analysis (processes and landforms) Geomorphic analysis (processes and landforms) Interpretation of the geologic record Interpretation of the geologic record Hydrogeology and aquifer characterization Hydrogeology and aquifer characterization Engineering geology (erosion and slope stability) Engineering geology (erosion and slope stability) Evaluation of geologic hazards Evaluation of geologic hazards

31 Strategy for Upholding State Licensing Laws Build Collaborative Multidisciplinary Teams Build Collaborative Multidisciplinary Teams  Registered Geologists  Professional Engineers  Ecologists / Biologists  Hydrologists / Geographers Barriers to Collaboration Barriers to Collaboration  Small projects with team-size limitations  Low profit margins, limited markets  Ego, long-standing divisions amongst the professions

32 Conclusion Water resource projects require a multi- disciplinary team approach with a diverse array of specialists (represented here today) Water resource projects require a multi- disciplinary team approach with a diverse array of specialists (represented here today) Under Oregon state law, geologic components of watershed projects require a registered geologist or engineering geologist Under Oregon state law, geologic components of watershed projects require a registered geologist or engineering geologist Given the inherent overlap between natural resource disciplines, OSBGE recognizes the need for professional alliances to ensure public welfare Given the inherent overlap between natural resource disciplines, OSBGE recognizes the need for professional alliances to ensure public welfare … outreach and discussion is a key component

33 Contact OSBGE For more information: Susanna Knight, Administrator Oregon State Board Geologist Examiners 1193 Royvonne Avenue SE #24 Salem OR Phone: Fax: Web:


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