Program ID: Innovation Anthology #355
Program Date: 11/23/2010
Program Category: Energy, Environment, Forests, Natural Resources, Oil Sands, Water
Bioengineering Useful in Reclaiming Oil Sands Landscapes
When Syncrude digs a pit to mine the oil sands, it has to pile the overburden somewhere.
These man-made hills are structured with swells, and eventually will be reclaimed to forest.
But spring runoff and rainstorms can erode topsoil that’s placed on the swells during reclamation.
The man in charge of erosion control is agrologist Eric Girard. As Eric explains, instead of placing concrete berms and rip rap on the swells, Syncrude uses bioengineering to stop erosion. And the raw material is cuttings from native aspen, willow and dogwood.
ERIC GIRARD: So we use live faccine. We bundle together a bunch of sticks, and we place them perpendicular to the slope so it will slow down the flow as it goes down. Even the first year, it will play a role for erosion control. even if there is nothing growing on them. But as time goes by, those faccine will grow stems and roots will go down and this will become almost indestructible. And it will improve with time which is the opposite of regular engineered solution.
Eric Girard says a large swell planted this spring already has shoots over two meters high.
Thanks today to Syncrude Canada Ltd
FOR INNOVATION ANTHOLOGY
I’M CHERYL CROUCHER