The underlying goal on Remediation and Restoration projects is to develop and utilize site-specific methods and procedures while still maintaining technical feasibility drawn from recognized remediation techniques. Sustainable work plans by their very nature are better positioned to protect both currently vulnerable areas and the potential future uses of them relating to public health, wildlife, livestock, and the ecosystem on a macro level. When environmental health is the key indicator of success on site, at-risk natural resources are protected from being lost as collateral damage from commonly used procedures and, all to often, ineffective practices.
The Response approach favored and supported at Genus is fruitful in large part due to the collaborative effort on site and behind the scenes from landowners, regulatory authorities, the public, and the responsible party. Achieving optimal sample results from the lab is important, but if to do so all contaminated material is simply removed, the soil has not been remediated but rather sent somewhere else.
SURFACE WATER CONTROL DAMS
Common place techniques of controlling and damming the flow of water typically include the blanket use of large HDPE liners. While these accomplish the task of containment, they are at odds with the ecosystems they are used in. For even short periods of time, they greatly impact the natural cycles of aquatic life.
A hugely successful alternative that can be implemented on site is utilizing available stone and boulders to create make-shift dams. They work to direct water in paths and pools we require, but also allow for native species to navigate throughout them.
IN SITU SOIL WASHING
Traditional treatment methods for contaminated soils require the removal and relocation of those impacted soils, shifting the burden of the contamination to public and private landfill facilities. By not exploring on-site alternatives, we do not address the impacts, rather relocate them. Many sites considered 'remediated' are still starkly barren of most native plant and animal species because the vital layer of top-soil has been removed instead of rehabilitated.
In situations where soil is to be removed it should be done as sparingly as possible and only when absolutely necessary for the overall health of the surrounding ecosystem. Recent and on-going pilot test are being used to show the effective nature of the addition of microbes and seeding of specific varieties to enhance biodegradation. In the past, the introduction of beneficial microbes has proven difficult because of the limited size of these microbial communities and how they can become overwhelmed by a localized influx of hydrocarbons. Researchers hope to show that an environment can be created where these microbial communities can be supplemented and cycled through biofilters to then be re-introduced back into the contaminated soil.
APADTED PLANT SPECIES
Regardless of source, whether man made or naturally occurring, saline-sodic soils create a barrier inhibiting a plants ability to absorb water and necessary nutrients while also negatively impacting surrounding soil structures. The difference in time frame however, is radically different. Whereas it may take years for the combined evaporation and transpiration to create saline-sodic soil conditions, those caused by human activity can replicate these conditions at a rapid rate in areas where local plant life has not had the time to slowly become adapted to it.
Most plant species can tolerate salts at a relatively low concentration. Halophytes, however, are a unique group of plants that exhibit a tolerance to salt and the ability to thrive in saline rich environments. When considering how to plant an area affected by heavy salt contamination, beginning with these halophyte species appears to increase nutrient availability and improve soil structure. This allows for more species development, ultimately creating a diverse plan community that can thrive. The inclusion of these plants has become an integral part of re-greening areas that were once believed to be sterile as a result of a released contaminate.