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Control of runoff (reducing infiltration) and erosion at shallow land burials is necessary in order to assure environmentally safe disposal of low-level radioactive-waste and other waste products. This study evaluated the runoff and erosion response of two perennial grass species on simulated waste burial covers at Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL). Rainfall simulations were applied to three plots covered by crested wheatgrass [Agropyron desertorum (Fischer ex Link) Shultes], three plots covered by streambank wheatgrass [Elymus lanceolatus (Scribner and Smith) Gould spp. lanceolatus], and one bare plot. Average total runoff for rainfall simulations in 1987, 1989, and 1990 was 42 percent greater on streambank wheatgrass plots than on crested wheatgrass plots. Average total soil loss for rainfall simulations in 1987 and 1990 was 105 percent greater on streambank wheatgrass plots than on crested wheatgrass plots. Total runoff and soil loss from natural rainfall and snowmelt events during 1987 were 25 and 105 percent greater, respectively, on streambank wheatgrass plots than on crested wheatgrass plots. Thus, crested wheatgrass appears to be better suited in revegetation of waste burial covers at INEEL than streambank wheatgrass due to its much lower erosion rate and only slightly higher infiltration rate (lower runoff rate).
Additional Publication Details
Runoff and erosion response of simulated waste burial covers in a semi-arid environment
Journal of the American Water Resources Association