The research plan and methodology involves several components. For improvements to the Subsoil Salinity Tool (SST) code regarding the DUA and root zone pathways, initial algorithms and approaches will be developed and vetted through the PTAC Salinity Working Group (SWG) for comment and recommendations. These improvements will be implemented in the SST code following approval by the SWG.
Other updates are required for the SST including revisions to the Help Manual to improve clarity and provide additional information that is of benefit to users of the tool. In addition, revisions are required with regard to help messages and warning flags, and well as information provided in the reporting feature that would be submitted to Alberta Environment. These updates will be determined through feedback from users. This feedback is best obtained directly through user developer interaction in a workshop setting and via technical assistance provided to individual users experiencing technical difficulties. These feedback mechanisms have proven successful in the SST development to date. An additional feedback mechanism is regular consultation with the SWG on a quarterly basis. It is therefore possible to keep the upgrade process up to date and relevant.
The primary scope of this research is related to refinement of the SST based on recent findings collected to date following implementation/testing at a number of sites, as well as feedback from Alberta Environment and beta testers of the SST program. The ultimate goal is to improve the accuracy of subsoil salinity guideline calculations and reduce the extent of extrapolation from site-specific data to default input parameters used to calculated subsoil salinity guidelines. The scope involves the following: 1) refine default categories for various site parameters, such as shallow groundwater velocity, site dimension, soil drainage category; 2) provide an output of results summarizing implications associated with the changes; 3) implement changes into the SST following stakeholder liaison; 4) refine subsoil chloride guidelines; 5) accordingly update the SST Help Manual; and, 6) liaise with Alberta Environment regarding implementation of the changes at early and later stages.