Five keys to managing your coal combustion residuals data

Green transition 8 May 2022 Sarah Meyer Keith A. Cole

Both the volume and value of your CCR compliance data is growing. How can you keep up with it and put it to best use for your organization?


High-frequency coal combustion residuals (CCR) compliance monitoring programs generate large datasets that are often under-utilized. You may have collected the data for compliance reporting, but you can use it for much more than just generating data tables to submit to a regulator. Investment in a comprehensive, cost-effective data management protocol allows you to use your data to guide strategic decision-making regarding CCR unit operation. Among other benefits, fully utilizing your data allows for more accurate liability forecasting, identification of compliance trends and the creation of a sound compliance program to reduce risk.

To learn how to efficiently manage your CCR data, consider the following five insights.

01 Identify the specific questions that you want your data to answer

Get the most out of your data by carefully laying out its purpose before you begin to collect and manage it. If your data will be used to demonstrate compliance, know what statistics or comparisons are required by the state and/or federal compliance rules governing your CCR units. Additional data may be needed if you also intend to use your CCR data to explore the ability to predict future constituent concentrations in groundwater or other trends. If your questions change or expand over time, or you are potentially facing corrective action, remember to make sure you’re collecting the right data to answer the new questions. 

02 Actively manage your data

By establishing a consistent workflow that applies to all data and includes quality control steps from data receipt to end use, you can avoid typical pitfalls such as:

  • Contributing to inadvertently biased data handling or reporting
  • Generating reports based on data of questionable quality that result in challenges to your compliance status
  • Making operational decisions based on data of questionable quality that lead to escalation of site management requirements
  • Generating a data set that is unusable without first investing significant resources 

03 Maintain a comprehensive database of all relevant data

Maintaining a current, comprehensive and uniform database ensures your data is ready when you need to use it. Data quality and comparability issues are greatly reduced with use of a consistent workflow and one database. Note that if you have a third party maintaining your database, for greater flexibility, you may want to keep an up-to-date copy for yourself as well.

04 Streamline statistical analyses

Most compliance programs require some level of statistical analysis. Often this necessitates exporting and manipulating data to be used in one or more statistical software packages. Using statistical software packages that allow direct connection to your database creates efficiencies and reduces potential for error.

05 Well-managed data can be used for multiple applications

A set of well-managed data can be used to streamline analyses, explore relationships between data previously thought to be unrelated or answer new questions. For example, well-managed data allows you to:

  • Use automated routines to reduce manual effort and obtain efficient, consistent and reproducible compliance results
  • Apply advanced data visualization tools to quickly identify outliers or errors, focus compliance strategy on true non-compliance issues, and explore relationships and trends between CCR data across your compliance fleet
  • Gain real-time insights into the effects of proposed regulatory changes by quickly comparing existing data to proposed groundwater protection standards, then using results to preemptively develop related business strategies
  • Improve stakeholder awareness by sharing simple data visualizations to help explain complex concepts



Innovative data analysis & compliance report automation

Dara™ is Ramboll’s in-house environmental compliance monitoring tool. It meets the specific needs of high-frequency groundwater monitoring programs, such as state and federal CCR rules, in a timely and cost-effective manner. Dara is programmed to perform statistical analysis on demand as soon as data is uploaded; therefore, scorecards, data visualization tools, tables and reports are updated with the latest statistical results within hours. 

By utilizing our innovative tool, we can shorten project timelines and guide decision-making; thus, allowing focused efforts on data interpretation, identification of compliance issues and development of remedial strategies. Ramboll currently utilizes Dara on 33 units worldwide. To develop an effective and strategically aligned CCR management plan that may or may not include beneficial use, it’s necessary to be up to date on regulatory factors that affect management plans – such as deadlines for preparing final closure plans and beneficial use projects, required permits and fees, and operations and maintenance obligations.

About Ramboll

Our experts assist with the development of alternative, sustainable and cost-effective CCR management plans that address evolving regulations, the green transition and challenges related to coal-fired power plant operations and closure. Our services include:

  • Characterizing impoundments and CCRs for beneficial use evaluation
  • Assessing market readiness, economic risk and liability of available CCRs
  • Studying feasibility of CCR use in an array of sustainable applications
  • Providing lifecycle and cost-benefit analysis for proposed uses
  • Connecting owners with potential market end-users
  • Developing strategies to meet compliance requirements while providing community benefit


Related market

Environment & Health


One of the world’s leading environmental and health consultancies, we are trusted by clients to manage their most challenging environmental, health and social issues. We help clients understand and manage the impacts of their activities and products, so that they can respond to business, regulatory or legal challenges effectively and develop sound strategies for operating sustainably.


Globally, there is a general push towards renewables, although conventional energy will continue to play a significant role in the energy mix in the coming years. As a consultancy, Ramboll is at the forefront of addressing the green transition and offers a holistic approach to energy that supports the sector on the journey towards more sustainable solutions.



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