Erosion control is an essential facet phase of job site preparation for building and development projects. Every design plan should incorporate the best management practices and sediment control devices for erosion control purposes. Why is erosion control so important? What essential function does it serve and why is it such a crucial component of projects here at Hogan Land Services? This article will seek to answer those these questions and others.
Erosion on Job Sites
Erosion is a significant concern for any construction or land development company. Construction activities of all types can cause erosion, including (but not limited to) excavation, grading, cut and fill, removal of trees, grass, or vegetation. These processes cause materials to become detached or loose from the ground, such as soil, sand, rock, or other sediment. Gradually, wind, gravity, and especially rain can cause sediments to move, causing problems for nearby properties or ecosystems.
The consequences of erosion are varied and depend on the location of the worksite, the nature of the sediments being disturbed, and the surrounding environments. For instance, projects in residential neighborhoods often have to contend with dirt and residue washing out into the road, creating an unsightly mess.
Erosion from worksites can cause substantial damage to nearby ecosystems. For example, plants and trees can be damaged or killed because of erosion. Erosion can choke out plant life, damage root systems, or even wash less substantial plants away entirely. In turn, the death of plants and trees can displace wildlife and cause a chain reaction of problems. Animals dislodged from their native ecosystems due to food source damage can become nuisances for farmers or dangers for drivers, among other widespread problems.
The consequences of erosion also go beyond land-based wildlife. Erosion is also a huge problem for aquatic life. Sediment washed into rivers, streams, bays, lakes, and other water bodies can cause contamination that is dangerous to humans and wildlife alike. Sediment from construction sites that discharge directly to wetlands and other environmentally sensitive lands can cause irreparable damage.
Other problems with erosion include flooding, landslides, and washouts. Erosion can also cause issues with stormwater runoff and draining, leading to unforeseen issues with flooding and property damage. In extreme enough circumstances, flooding and erosion can lead to drastic land movements that are catastrophic to roads, property, and human life.
As you can see, erosion can lead to costly and difficult-to-reverse problems. Land development companies must be cognizant of these risks at the outset of any new project. Not only do these businesses have a moral obligation to protect the environment, but they are also legally required to control the sediment at their worksites.
Fortunately, sediment control is possible. Using the correct strategies, often referred to as Best Management Practices or BMPs, construction companies can prevent erosion or contain it to the sites where they are working. These strategies, in turn, protect surrounding lands, properties, ecosystems, water sources, plant life, wildlife, and more. Erosion control methods at construction sites typically include:
- Proper Grading & Drainage Design: A proper grading design will allow water to be directed to a swale or culvert and direct this water to an erosion resistant outfall such as a rock energy dissipater that will allow the storm water to naturally return to sheet flow. Grading a site and removing the existing vegetation is the greatest cause of erosion and sediment control problems. A proper erosion and sediment control plan will specify location and details for Best Management Practices to minimize the amount of sediment from leaving the site until the natural vegetation and ground cover can be reestablished.
- Silt Fences & Fiber Rolls: Construction sites are almost always encircled by silt fences. These fences are made from a synthetic fabric stretched between wooden posts or stakes. They are trenched into the ground at the edges of a worksite or property. The synthetic, geotextile design of the fence fabric allows for water to seep through, but impedes soil, sediment, and other debris. As a result, silt fences are a valid (and affordable) means of containing sedimentation to worksites. Fiber rolls use the same method but it consists of plan fibers in a bio-degradable burlap sack like material that is staked to the ground.
- Stabilized Rock Construction Entrances: A rock construction entrance is a bed of large angular rocks placed at the entrance or exit point of a construction site. This erosion control method is meant to remove dirt and other sediment from the tires of vehicles as they leave the worksite. Rock construction entrances are useful for limiting the amount of sediment that leaves the site and is transferred to the roadway surface.
- Erosion Control Blankets: Usually implemented on steeper slopes where additional erosion control or slope protection is required, an erosion control blanket is a mat made of straw, wood, and other materials. Laying this mat across erosion-prone parts of the property can protect the soils in those areas from rain, thereby limiting sediment runoff. At the same time, erosion control blankets retain moisture, which can help grass seed take or foster other plant growth.
At Hogan Land Services, we are happy to help developers any construction companies understand their obligations regarding erosion control. With our knowledge and experience, our team can create an erosion control plan best suited for your project. For questions about erosion and sediment control, give us a call at 877-544-2104.