Site Specific Remediation Planner

Remediation of brine scars to soil resources caused by the historic production of oil and gas can be achieved. Although every problem or situation can not be anticipated for each site, the steps listed below will be useful in designing an effective and economic remediation plan for most Kansas sites.

Step 1: Soil Characterization - Collect and perform specific lab analyses of several soil samples.
Step 2: Soil Amendments - Compute necessary soil additives.
Step 3: Re-vegetation - Obtain recommendations for appropriate seeds and transplants from this website.
Step 4: Irrigation - Obtain recommendations for irrigation requirements from this website.

Getting started: The object of brine scar remediation is to leach salts out of the root-zone, which extends approximately four to six feet below the surface. It is, however, not desirable for salts to leach into useable groundwater. If there is evidence of shallow groundwater, such as nearby shallow water wells, contact the staff at the appropriate KCC District Office before proceeding. Prolonged exposure to salt water can kill plants, damage soil structure, and cause long-lasting scars. An effective soil remediation plan must address all these factors.

Soil is the first concern; to learn more about the basics of soil science, soil sampling, and soil testing, refer to the websites listed below:

To develop a site specific remediation plan, the first step is to analyze the soil for total salinity and sodium content.

  • Soil salinity is the total of the dissolved salts and is related to the soil’s ability to grow plants.
  • Sodium content can be indirectly related to the structure of the soil and its ability to conduct water. Soils with high levels of sodium are generally "tight" and do not allow water to move efficiently through the soil.

The soil at the site must be sampled in an organized and complete manner over the entire scarred area. This can be best accomplished by collecting several "composite samples" across the scarred area to determine average soil properties. A soil sampling guide is available to assist you in the proper method of collecting and documenting soil data.

After collecting the samples, laboratory analyses need to be performed for the following necessary constituents:

  • Electrical Conductivity (EC) provides an estimate of soil salinity. EC values are reported in dS/cm;
  • Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) effectively measures the amount of active clay in the soil. CEC values are reported in meq/100g;
  • Exchangeable Sodium Percent (ESP) measures sodium in the clays and the relative potential for damage to soil permeability.

Many commercial soil labs can perform these analyses. Soil samples can also be economically analyzed for the necessary constituents by requesting a "Salt Alkali" analysis from the KSU Soil Laboratory, which is located at 2308 Throckmorton Hall, Manhattan, KS, 66506.

The recommendations provided will also include some useful information regarding cover plants. Additional information can be found at the Kansas Biological Survey (KBS) website.