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Investing in Effective Reclamation

This past week, the GENUS team had the opportunity to attend and present at the 10th annual North Dakota Reclamation Conference. The mission of the event is to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders with the shared commitment of investing in sustainable soil health, reclamation, and new innovative and effective remediation techniques. Attendees ranged from representatives within regulatory bodies at the State and Federal level, Oil and Gas producers, those in the Midstream Sector, Coal Industry, as well as University Graduate programs and their students currently conducting research towards tomorrow's reliable reclamation solutions, Consulting Agencies and Testing Labs, and North Dakota’s local landowners. The panels and presentations given throughout the day-long event provided a glimpse into the work being conducted today as well as research currently underway. Access to the recordings of the various talks and slideshows, including those given by GENUS’s own Project Director Harold Rhodes, will be made available on the ND Reclamation Conference website for anyone interested that wasn’t able to attend in person.

GENUS’s presentations included their use of electrokenetics in recovering and mitigating produced water impacts in shallow perched water systems and surface water and how electrokenetics could potentially be applied in other situations.

Figure 1_ BTC EK

A second GENUS presentation focused on the critical role that Site Characterization and Delineation have played in ongoing remediation activities at Blacktail Creek and other projects. Comprehensive Site Characterization and Delineation is critical in realizing what environmental remediation can do in restoring our green spaces.

Figure 2_ SC and D

Having the opportunity to meet and discuss with those involved in investigating new and improved ways of approaching the reclamation of impacted soils, as well as being able to confer with the peers and colleagues we work with in the field, was an invaluable experience. Presentations ranged in topics from the effects of drought on agriculture and erosion control to new developments in soil reclamation, such as electrokenetics and the potential utilization of calcium acetate as an amendment to enhance the recovery of produced water impacts from contaminated soils given by NDSU’s Annalie Peterson as part of NDSU Graduate Program.

There was much to learn, and I left the conference with new questions and ideas and excitement for all the work being done in this, at times, overlooked area of ‘environmental clean-up’. One of my greatest takeaways from the day was the importance of data. While that may seem glaringly obvious, dedicating time to not only test, sample, and classify thoroughly in the beginning stages of a project but throughout the entire project timeline is vital in GENUS’s approach to remediation. To truly know the ins and outs of the site, such as soil formation and content, the presence of surface and ground water, the existence of terrestrial or aquatic wildlife, and observing how all these factors change and morph over time is critical in our remediation response.

One of the presentations, given by Dr. Carissa Wonka of the USDA on “Enhancing Reclamation Through Trait Based Species Selection”, was especially insightful in how to best identify alternative plant species to use in remediation efforts by understanding as much as possible about how plants adapt and thrive in specific situations and environments.

Figure 3_ Plant Community

That knowledge and understanding will be hugely useful moving forward and can mean the difference between a replanted area failing or once again returning to a stable and self-sustaining plant community.

GENUS’s was honored and privileged for this opportunity and is thankful for those that helped prepare for these presentations. I am already looking forward to meeting with everyone again next year and hearing what new and encouraging updates, projects, and breakthroughs are taking place. This area of reclamation, particularly that of soil health, is something that has the potential to impact not only remediation projects related to the oil and gas industry, but virtually every other land use decision as well. From agricultural related production, waste management, to the shift in our energy creation, comprehending the subtle but fundamental connections between all that exists in nature is valuable to everyone. The ever-growing body of scientific literature and available data related to this topic is out there but can often be hard to find or understand the practical application of. That is why now, more than ever, there is a need for open discussions and discourse between those who have problems, those who have relevant information, and those that can apply solutions.


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