Novetats Life Tecmine

Ves enrere Interview with Nicholas Bugosh

Interview with Nicholas Bugosh

Who is Nicholas Bugosh?

Nicholas Bugosh is a hydrologist and the inventor of a new approach to land grading that returns disturbed lands to natural function and appearance that is known as GeoFluv upon which the Natural Regrade design software is based.

In 2009, Nicholas formed the company GeoFluv to provide training, coaching, and consulting services in this innovative landform design method and he continues to serve as the GeoFluv Technical Director for Carlson Software where he is responsible for the development and support of the Natural Regrade fluvial geomorphic landform design software worldwide.

Nicholas resides in Parma, Ohio, USA.  His training in geology and hydrology includes Bachelor of Science in Geology and Master of Science in Earth Sciences.  He has conducted field research on bedload transportation in mountain streams, worked for state agencies in South Dakota, Montana, and Idaho with mining and water quality regulation, worked as a hydrologic consultant on projects across the United States, and worked as Senior Hydrologist for the New Mexico operations of the largest mining company in the world.

How did the GeoFluv method come up?

Early in Nicholas' career his hydrologic training was used in various jobs totalling 12 years in regulatory agencies in three states. His work included inspecting traditionally-designed land reclamation projects and evaluating erosion problems ranging from persistent maintenance problems to catastrophic failures.  When inspecting reclamation failures he noted that natural lands surrounding these failures passed the same storms that caused problems on the reclamation without any signs of accelerated erosion.  He studied the natural landforms to understand how they could convey the storm runoff without accelerated erosion and identified key landform characteristics that defined the stable natural landforms. The GeoFluv method uses design input values taken from local, stable natural reference landforms to design a reclamation landform that can function like the stable, natural land. The GeoFluv method gained wide notoriety when Nicholas began using it in 2000 to help a mining company solve the persistent erosion problems associated with traditional reclamation at a New Mexico surface mine.

What are the knowledge and computer tools to be able to apply the method?

An understanding of basic principles of hydrology and fluvial geomorphology are needed for the method's user to make sound design decisions.  Basic computer-aided design (CAD) skills are needed to make the designs using a computer.

Is it necessary to make a specific training of this technique?

Yes, training in the GeoFluv method is necessary. GeoFluv has a Certification Program that documents the Levels and hours of training that users have completed to protect the integrity of the method, to establish user credentials, and to provide a means for project owners to verify designer's training and experience.  There are four levels of training that cover: the basic GeoFluv method and design concepts, making a functional GeoFluv design, getting the design constructed, and verifying the performance of the constructed design.

Where the training is available?

The training is available from authorized GeoFluv Associates that are located around the world and can be taken On-site or Web-based.

From your point of view, what advantages does this methodology bring to mining restorations compared to the traditional method (berm-slope)?

The GeoFluv method uses input values from natural landforms that have developed characteristics to efficiently convey storm runoff and sediment from the land over thousands of years. During this formation period the land has been exposed to extreme storms with recurrence intervals greater than thousands of years being expected to have helped shaped the land to achieve its hydrologic balance. When the designer correctly uses input values measured from these stable natural reference areas in the GeoFluv design method they can have a high degree of confidence that their reclamation landform will perform like the stable natural land from which the input values were taken. The designer can control where the reclamation earth materials are placed to minimize construction costs and all GeoFluv projects known to GeoFluv have been constructed at equal or lower cost than traditional reclamation designs would require.

The traditional berm-slope method was adopted from steep-slope agricultural practices in which farmers sought to capture and manage the storm runoff on steep slopes to allow farming them by redirecting the downward flow of the runoff horizontally on the slope.  Because gravity causes water to flow downslope, berms are required to retard the downward flow and redirect it horizontally. These berms are subject to failure by many mechanisms like over-topping by large storms, leakage caused by burrowing animals, blockage by wind-blown vegetation and snow and ice, etc. The farmers can repair these berms while on-site or at the onset of each growing season, but the goal of successful reclamation is to leave the site and not have to return for expensive maintenance. The traditional method also results in slopes with very uniform slope angles and aspects that do not promote diversity in water retention and sunlight that support diversity in vegetation species and composition.

In what parts of the world has this technique been applied?

The GeoFluv method is the heart of the Natural Regrade CAD design software that has licensed and trained users in the United States, Canada, South America, Africa, Europe, and Australia.

The Natural Regrade design software has been designated as (Technical Information Project and Services) TIPS core software by the US Dept. of the Interior Office of Surface Mining who have awarded 2004 ‘National' and ‘Best of the Best' reclamation awards and 2008 Mid-Continent Regional awards to GeoFluv designs. The New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division and Wyoming Abandoned Mine Land program have designated the fluvial geomorphic design method as Best Available Technology.

The La Plata Mine reclamation in the USA is the oldest large completed GeoFluv reclamation example.

October 2017 listing of Australian sites designed using the GeoFluv method and Natural Regrade software (designer Chris Waygood):

  • Mangoola: Ongoing construction since 2012 – 1300 hectares
  • Tasman: Design and construction complete 2013/2014
  • Ravensworth: Ongoing construction since 2014
  • Mt Arthur Colliery: Construction started 2016
  • Mt Owen: Started, but busy with an update
  • Mount Thorley Warkworth: Complete, starting with a trial slope on the northern side
  • Glendell: Completed
  • Liddell Power Station: Busy finalising the design
  • Bengalla: Completed
  • Mangoola Continued Operations: To start shortly
  • United: For EIS
  • HVO South: Finalised for EIS

What results have been obtained?

All the results that I am aware of have been satisfactory as far as providing the desired hydrologic function, supporting the desired post-reclamation land use, eliminating long-term maintenance and repair, and providing for construction costs less-than or equal to surrounding natural ground.

Studies are now being published documenting the performance of the constructed GeoFluv designs. The results of an exhaustive multi-year study that began in 2010 quantifying the sediment yield from natural land and adjacent GeoFluv reclamation was published in January 2019:

  • Bugosh, N. and E.G.  Epp, 2019.  Evaluating Sediment Production from Native and Fluvial Geomorphic-Reclamation Watersheds at La Plata Mine, Catena, 174 (2019) 383-398.
  • Zapico, et al., 2018, Geomorphic reclamation for reestablishment of landform stability at a watershed scale in mined sites: The Alto Tajo Natural Park, Spain. Ecological Engineering, Volume 111, February 2018, Pages 100–116

You have participated in the LIFE TECMINE project supporting the UCM team with the design of the restoration and training technicians in this method. What would you highlight about this LIFE project?

The LIFE project included trainees from both the industrial and regulatory sectors. This is important so that regulators and industry designers can effectively communicate about reclamation design goals and alternatives, and to evaluate reclamation designs and inspect reclamation during and after construction.

The LIFE project provided the established Level 1 Introductory training that has been used around the world; this will promote consistency and success in the application of the GeoFluv method. The participants were able to complete the training and earn Level 1 Certification.

The LIFE project included on-the-ground time in the field to expose the trainees to examples of problems associated with the traditional reclamation methods and to directly compare them to the adjacent, stable, natural landform characteristics to reinforce the classroom discussions. 

The LIFE project included on-the-ground time in the field to expose the trainees to a demonstration project under construction so that they could relate the CAD design elements they worked with in the classroom to actual reclamation landform features. They also gained an exposure to what Level 3 construction training involves.

The LIFE project offered an immediate progression to Level 2 Design training while the Level 1 Introductory Training was fresh in the trainee's minds. This promotes rapid learning and retention of learned concepts.  The participants in this Level 2 training made significant progress in their understanding and ability to use the GeoFluv design method with the Natural Regrade software.

The LIFE project included native language (Spanish) GeoFluv design experts to help clarify ‘terms of art' in the trainee's native language. The trainee's commented that they found this very useful and it was greatly appreciated.

The LIFE project was coordinated by staff at VAERSA who greatly facilitated the smooth and efficient completion of this work.



El projecte LIFE TECMINE i el contingut d'aquesta pàgina web han sigut finançats amb el suport del Programa LIFE de la Unió Europea.

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