Research Interests:

  • Wastewater Treatment Farms and Waste Recycling
  • Resource Evaluation for Water, Oil & Gas, Coal, and Renewable Energy
  • Evaluating Alternate Exposure Pathways of VOC Vapors into Indoor Air from Legacy Sewer-Plumbing Systems


James A. Jacobs, P.G., C.H.G.


James Jacobs P.G., C.H.G., C.P.G., CPetG, ToR QSP/QSD, ToR QISP 
has 35 years of experience as a field operations geologist and remediation environmental scientist solving geologic, environmental exposure and forensic problems.  Most of his project work is forensic analysis related to causation, cost of mitigation or repair, determination of value of services provided, peer review, cost to remedy, assessment of required and necessary expenses based on facts and evidence for damages from erosion, flooding, stormwater, subsurface contamination, industrial processes, mining, oil and gas production, and multi-media exposures.  Jacobs is Principal Geologist with Clearwater Group.  He received his undergraduate degree in geology and English from Franklin & Marshall College (1978) and his MA in geology (1981) from the University of Texas at Austin related to fluvial geomorphology and depositional systems.  Jacobs worked on the North Slope of Alaska on exploration wells and onshore in California evaluating oil and gas prospects for two oil companies.  He returned to California to focus on environmental science and hydrogeology in 1989, and co-founded an environmental consulting company a year later.  He has supervised a team of earth scientists and engineers on a variety of environmental and geological projects.  Since 1990, he has also developed methods and worked extensively on and written widely about the assessment and remediation of soil and groundwater impacted by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including chlorinated solvents such as PCE, TCE and MEK, and petroleum hydrocarbon VOCs such as benzene and toluene.  During this time, he co-wrote four technical books.  In 2003, he received the first of four Fulbright Senior Scholar awards to teach soil and groundwater assessment and remediation methods, and risk-based environmental decision making.  He has been working on sewer-related issues since 2002.  His current research connects his remediation expertise and sewer experience in evaluating potential for vapor migration of methane and other volatile compounds into sewer systems and possible exposure pathways into homes and offices.


Jacobs has provided dozens of second opinions for peer review, to evaluate pathways to case closure and has been called as an expert witness on hundreds of cases.  He has performed various other technical projects related to remediation feasibility testing and peer review evaluation. He is the qualifying individual for the California contractor license (#799370) in general engineering, drilling, building, hazardous waste removal, and asbestos removal.  He has supervised dozens of underground storage tank removal projects.  He strongly believes in student mentoring, and since 2011, has been the founder and AIPG Sponsor for the University of California at Davis AIPG Student Section and enjoys teaching undergraduate and graduate students as well as professionals.  He is licensed in 8 states as a Professional Geologist, and two states as a Certified Hydrogeologist.  He is also a Certified Professional Geologist by the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG), and a Certified Petroleum Geologist with the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG). 


Technical Publications

Jacobs has developed and edited/co-authored four books on environmental subjects: MTBE (2000; CRC Press), Chromium(VI) (2005; CRC Press) and most recently, Acid Mine Drainage, Rock Drainage and Acid Sulfate Soils (2014; Wiley and Sons), and Oil Spills and Gas Leaks (2014; McGraw-Hill).  He has co-authored over 100 technical articles on water treatment and environmental issues and has given over 50 technical presentations with abstracts.  


Fulbright Scholar 

He won four Fulbright Senior Specialist awards in environmental engineering and science teaching post-graduate workshops in risk-based subsurface environmental management and sustainable remediation methods, including field sampling methods, laboratory analysis, data evaluation and reporting.  The Fulbright grants were for University of West Indies (Mona Campus), Jamaica (2003 and 2004); Afeka Engineering College, Israel (2008), and SRTM University, India (2012). 


Sewer Collection Agency Director and Wastewater Plant Commissioner

As a public policy specialist and an elected public official, Mr. Jacobs has also been involved with storm-water and wastewater issues and treatment at two local sewer plants. Since 2002, he has served on the Board of Directors of the Tamalpais Community Services District (http://www.tcsd.us/ ), the local sewer, refuse and recycling agency serving 2,500 homes. He has been an elected Commissioner of the Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin (SASM) since 2002, and was president (2009-2011) of the wastewater agency that operates the treatment facility in Mill Valley, California.  He has promoted and supported sustainable environmental practices within the TCSD, a certified green business which now offers residents recycling of electronic waste, fluorescent bulbs, medicines, batteries, paper and cardboard. By 2009, 1 million less pounds of waste were processed by TCSD, than in 2006.  In 2013, TCSD won the Marin County Green Business of the Year award due to the successful recycling efforts and reduction in wastes shipped to the local landfills.


Education
M.A. Geology, University of Texas, Austin, Texas, USA, August 1981 

B.A. Geology and Englsih, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, June 1978


Academic Awards
1981: R.K. DeFord Field Scholarship Award; University of Texas at Austin 
2003: Fulbright Senior Scholar Award, Univ. of West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica; February–March; CIES
2004: Fulbright Senior Scholar Award, Univ. of West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica; March–April; CIES
2008: Fulbright Senior Scholar Award, Afeka Engineering College, Tel Aviv, Israel; March–April; CIES
2007–2011: Selected and Served on Fulbright Peer Review Committee; CIES
2012: Fulbright Senior Scholar Award, SRTM University, Nanded, India; January – February; CIES

​2016: Virtual Fellow, U.S. Department of State, Cabo Verde’s Road Map to 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Professional Awards
1999–2004: Elected to the Board of Directors, Groundwater Resources Association of California
1998: Groundwater Resources Association; President's Tribute Certificate 
2001 and 2010: American Institute of Professional Geologists, National Presidential Certificate of Merit 
2004: California Council of Geosciences (CCGO) “Gold Award” 
2011:  American Institute of Professional Geologists: Honorary Membership Award

2013:  American Institute of Professional Geologists:  Elected National AIPG Vice President
2015:  American Institute of Professional Geologists:  Martin Van Couvering Memorial Award
2016:  National Groundwater Association: Fellow

Public Service as a Publicly Elected Official
2002–2017: Director; Tamalpais Community Services District; President or Vice President (2004-2012)
2002–2017: Director; Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin; President or Vice President (2008-2011)
2002-2009: Representative; Sausalito-Marin City Sanitary Dist
rict; TCSD Representative


Sewer Projects, Sustainable Energy and Recycling
Collection Agency Director and Wasterwater Plant Commissioner:  As a public policy specialist and an elected public official, Jacobs has also been involved with storm-water and wastewater issues and treatment at two local sewer plants. Since 2002, he has served on the Board of Directors of the Tamalpais Community Services District (http://www.tcsd.us/ ), the local sewer, refuse and recycling agency serving 2,500 homes.  He is an elected Commissioner of the Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin (SASM) since 2002, and was president (2009-2011) at the wastewater agency that operates the treatment facility in Mill Valley, California.  From 2002 to 2009, he has been a TCSD representative to the Sausalito-Marin City Sewer Agency. He has promoted and supported sustainable environmental practices within the TCSD, a certified green business which now offers residents recycling of electronic waste, fluorescent bulbs, medicines, batteries, paper and cardboard. In 2009, 1 million less lbs of waste were processed by TCSD than in 2006.  In 2013, TCSD won the Marin County Green Business of the Year award due to the successful recycling efforts and reduction in wastes shipped to the local landfills.


Project Summary: Evaluating Alternate Exposure Pathways of VOC Vapors into Indoor Air from Legacy Sewer-Plumbing Systems

The sewer-plumbing system is a potential alternate exposure pathway for toxic sewer gases such as VOCs, including tetrachloroethylene (PCE), a common dry cleaning solvent, to migrate into indoor air.   A standard US EPA (2002) vapor intrusion model needs to be re-evaluated and updated to include this important exposure pathway, especially in buildings located upgradient and outside of mapped groundwater contaminant plumes containing VOCs.  VOC-impacted groundwater can infiltrate into cracked and leaking sewer trunk lines.  VOCs volatilize into sewer air and migrates through sewer laterals into indoor air in houses which have inadequate vapor seals. There are hundreds of thousands of shallow groundwater plumes containing VOCs such as PCE and benzene in urban areas in North America. There are also countless of urban sewer systems which leak significantly during strong rain events.  This research project will assess continuous migration of VOCs into indoor air through legacy sewer-plumbing systems and ineffective vapor seals.  (For more information, see Research Project tab on this website).


More Information

Additional information can be obtained by calling James A. Jacobs at 510-590-1098 or email to jjacobs@clearwatergroup.com.  ​


Figure 1 (left): A common VOC vapor model (modified after others, original from US EPA, 2002).  ​Figure 2 (right):  An example of an alternate exposure pathway model showing sewer gases and VOCs entering indoor air through ineffective plumbing vapor seals. Note: VOCs are released to the indoor air and through the vent line on roof.   VOC data ( Riis et al., 2010; and Pennell et al., 2013) support this alternate VOC exposure pathway into indoor air.  Conditions in the houses reflect exposure pathways.

A:  Intact vapor seals and not over VOC plume  (exposure pathway not completed)
B:  Leaky vapor seals and not over VOC plume  (exposure pathway completed)
C:  Intact vapor seals and working SSD over VOC plume (exposure pathway not completed)
D:  Leaking vapor seals and working SSDs over VOC plume (exposure pathway completed)


James A. Jacobs, P.G., C.H.G.

email: jjacobs@clearwatergroup.com

cell: 510-590-1098

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved

James A. Jacobs, P.G., C.H.G.

email: jjacobs@clearwatergroup.com

cell: 510-590-1098

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved

RESOURCE Geologist / Environmental SCIENTIST

James A. Jacobs, P.G., C.H.G.