remains above unrestricted use level. From 1986 to 1996, 3 to 20 percent of groundwater remedies at Superfund facilities had institutional controls. However, by 2008, 93 percent of the groundwater remedies selected that year included institutional controls (EPA, 2010a) and current guidance is likely to require such controls at every groundwater contamination site.
Types of Institutional Controls
Institutional controls (ICs) are administrative and/or legal controls that minimize the potential for human exposure to contamination and/or protect the integrity of a remedy, generally by attempting to modify human behavior. For example, proprietary controls represent a private agreement between the current property owner and, in this situation, EPA, a state, or a federal agency that has transferred or plans to transfer property that has use restrictions. The control is generally authorized by state law. An easement or restrictive covenant prohibiting the extraction of groundwater for drinking water on property containing the contaminated groundwater plume is an example of this type of instrument.
There are also direct governmental controls on the use of property, such as zoning laws, building codes, or state, tribal, or local groundwater use regulations. Federal agencies such as the Army may possess the authority to enforce institutional controls on their property, e.g., in Base Master Plans, facility construction review processes, facility digging permit systems, and/or the facility well permitting systems.
The third category of institutional controls are components of enforcement instruments or permits issued by federal or state regulators to private or federal PRPs (e.g., administrative orders, permits, Federal Facility Agreements, and judicial consent decrees). These legally enforceable instruments may limit site activities or require the performance of specific activities like the monitoring of IC effectiveness.
Finally, there are informational devices such as recording site cleanup documents in property records and providing advisories to local communities, tourists, recreational users, or other interested persons that residual contamination remains on-site. Although informational devices are not enforceable, they may be required by an enforceable consent decree or other enforceable instrument.
Each type of institutional control has advantages and disadvantages, which revolve around, for example, how the control enables or restricts future economic development, whether the control is enforceable, and at which level of government it is enforced (e.g., zoning is traditionally a function of local government and generally, EPA and federal agencies have little or no direct role in local zoning). Different institutional controls differ with respect to who pays to maintain and enforce the control. At CERCLA-