Completing quality projects on time and within budget is a minimum performance standard in the environmental industry. At KC Harvey, we believe in more than just quality, timeliness and financial responsibility, we believe in true innovation and “out of the box” thinking to exceed our client’s expectations. Even the smallest, seemingly mundane task can benefit from innovation.
Some examples of the accomplishments and innovations that KC Harvey is noted for are summarized below.
Arkansas River Mine Tailing Remediation (Colorado)
The Problem: Historic uncontrolled releases of mine tailings and contaminated water into the Arkansas River downstream of Leadville, Colorado resulted in hundreds of acres of barren or metal-impacted soils within the floodplain and in adjacent irrigated pastures. These sites are part of the California Gulch Superfund Site and previously contributed to local loss of pasture land, wildlife habitat and fisheries.
The KC Harvey Solution: EPA required an implementable, low-cost fix that immobilized floodplain metals, stabilized erosive streambanks and allowed for recovery of the fishery and improvement in water quality. EPA also wanted the treatments implemented quickly with minimal disruption to the community and private landowners. KCHarvey was hired as experts in minesoil remediation and floodplain revegetation. Soil amendments including lime and compost were tilled into the soil to decrease acidity and reduce metal mobility, followed by seeding with native grasses. Streambank bioengineering techniques were used to revegetate unstable banks using transplanted willows and riparian vegetation from the floodplain. A construction contractor implemented the work during the 2008-2009 construction seasons.
The Outcome: Floodplain revegetation was successful. Water quality has been improved. Cattle and wildlife have voted, and the outcome is unanimously in favor of reclamation. In 2014, the Upper Arkansas was designated as a Gold Medal Trout Water. Leadville residents, previously skeptical of EPA and Superfund have been impressed with the effectiveness of the work. Private landowners have returned previously barren pastures to livestock grazing.
Before Treatment (2008)
After Remediation (2010)
During Treatment (2009)
After Remediation (2012)
Related ‘Metals to Medals’ Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6kRzkyxISM&feature=youtu.be#
Additional Project Information: PowerPoint show from the 2012 EPA Hardrock Mining Conference: Advancing Solutions for a New Legacy
April 3-5, 2012, Denver, Colorado
Analogous Concern in Colorado: An August 5, 2015 release of mine water into the Animas River has resulted in a heightened awareness of the hazards of unreclaimed mines. Media coverage has contrasted the successful reclamation in Leadville to the uncontrolled releases on mine waste and water on the Animas. At KCHarvey we are proud of our accomplishments on the Arkansas River and are committed to dedicating ourselves to similar work in other watersheds. Nearly 40% of headwater streams in the western U.S. are impacted by historic mining.
Managed Irrigation for the Beneficial Use of Coalbed Natural Gas Produced Water
The Problem: In 2000, natural gas producers in the Wyoming Powder River Basin faced a dilemma — find a method for disposing or utilizing vast amounts of saline-sodic produced water associated with coalbed natural gas operations or shut in thousands of wells. Sodic wastewater used directly for irrigation or indirectly after being discharged to streams can damage the physical structure of soils reducing soil infiltration and permeability, and crop production.
The KC Harvey Solution: The KC Harvey team developed a successful managed irrigation program as an alternative for managing the produced water. The proprietary methods comprising “managed irrigation” of CBNG water were derived from the application of soil science, water chemistry, agricultural engineering and agronomic principles to utilize untreated CBNG-produced water in a beneficial manner to produce forage for livestock and wildlife while protecting soil physical and chemical properties. This program required design, testing, implementation, operation, monitoring, soil management, and regulatory reporting.
The Outcome: Since its successful development, managed irrigation has been used by several natural gas producing companies to handle all of their produced water in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming. Since 2001, KC Harvey has managed over 3,000 acres of alfalfa and other forage crops irrigated solely with produced water. This managed irrigation program was recognized by both state and federal government agencies as an accepted produced water management method, and KC Harvey won a national award from the Soil Society of America for this work. In addition, oil and gas producers as far away as Australia have noted this work and have retained KC Harvey to implement this process for their projects.
Systematic Science Based Oil Field Reclamation Management
The Problem: In the early 2000s, natural gas producers discovered abundant new unconventional gas resources in the Rocky Mountain west. This led to the rapid development of new gas fields and expansion of existing fields. The regulatory requirements for these developments require a higher level of attention to reclamation to return disturbed areas back to their original use, primarily wildlife habitat, as quickly as possible. Also, many new gas fields have disturbance area limitations which require completing reclamation prior to additional development. These fields, with thousands of individual disturbances, are located in semi-arid, high desert environments with limited precipitation and naturally occurring saline and sodic soils. These conditions are challenging for reclamation making compliance with the higher reclamation standards difficult for most operators. With disturbance limits approaching and little success with reclamation, several operators turned to KC Harvey for solutions.
The KC Harvey Solution: KC Harvey embarked on a site-specific, science based approach to reclamation. This required identifying the reclamation challenges and developing cost-effective approaches to mitigate the conditions causing them. Site specific field evaluation and soil laboratory analysis at completed well pads indicated that suitable soils had been contaminated with unsuitable sub-soil material during construction. In some cases, plant growth was no longer possible at these locations. We then took a two-pronged approach to find a solution: first develop procedures to prevent soil degradation on new well pad locations, and second, mitigate the contamination that was preventing plant growth on locations already constructed.
The Outcome: Our science-based approach inspired the development of systematic pre-construction soil salvage procedures that inventory suitable soils prior to construction, and salvage those soils for reclamation. This process involves mapping soils and vegetation communities on a proposed location, sampling soils at specific depth increments in each mapped soil/vegetation unit, analyzing these soils for parameters limiting to plant growth, and developing a soil salvage plan for construction based on these data. Concurrently, we developed soil amendment procedures to mitigate sodic soil conditions at well pads where sodic sub-soil had been mixed with and contaminated the salvaged soil. Implementation of the pre-construction soil salvage plans on new locations and treating sodic soils with amendments on old locations had an immediate positive impact on reclamation success, and allowed natural gas producers to meet their reclamation goals.
Detoxification and Neutralization of Acid-producing Mine Waste
The Problem: Acid generation from sulfidic mine tailings is a world-wide environmental problem resulting in water quality degradation and soil impairment. Thousands of miles of stream are affected and in some cases these streams are entirely devoid of fish.
The KC Harvey Solution: Research performed by KC Harvey scientists developed the scientific basis for permanent treatment of acid-producing mine waste through soil amendment followed by native plant revegetation.
The Outcome: Remediation of acidic mine waste by soil amendment has been selected by EPA and State regulators for thousands of acres at Superfund sites in the western U.S. These techniques have been implemented over a period of several decades in watersheds impaired by mine waste resulting in water quality improvements.
Systematic Science Based Reclamation of Mining Related Superfund Sites
The Problem: Human and ecological health protection is a required outcome of remediation at Superfund sites. Metal contamination and resource degradation at mining mega-sites is widespread and easily measured, yet cost-effective, permanent remedial techniques and durable cleanup procedures are often lacking.
The KC Harvey Solution: Scientists employed by KC Harvey developed transparent assessment protocols and companion remedial design frameworks for government regulators and responsible party managers. These techniques combined measures of contamination severity and risk of contaminant release with observations of natural recovery to delineate areas requiring remediation.
The Outcome: The Land Reclamation Evaluation System (LRES) was devised in 1997 for the 300 square mile Anaconda Smelter Superfund Site. Since inception this protocol has allowed for remediation of thousands of acres and protection of thousands of acres from tillage where natural recovery is on-going. Over the past 15 years this system has been continuously updated and is now being used as a performance standard for revegetation success.