Every project in its early planning and engineering stages must take erosion and sedimentation control into account. From 250,000 square-foot industrial facilities to small residential projects – there are practices in place and rules to follow on a state-by-state basis related to keeping excess soil from traveling into water bodies.
Erosion is defined as the detachment and movement of soil particles through water, wind, or ice. Sedimentation occurs when eroded soil is deposited into water bodies or onto other surfaces. When sediment travels into water bodies, it can harm aquatic life and restrict the amount of sunlight that reaches aquatic plants.
Sedimentation can also increase flood potential by clogging storm sewer drains and decreasing the amount of storage in water bodies. In addition, if a waterbody is high in sediment, this increases the cost of treatment for our drinking water, ultimately costing the consumer. These impacts bring formal rules and regulations on both the federal and state levels.
Due to these erosion and sedimentation effects, states require Best Management Practices (BMPs) to be put into place any time there is land disturbance on a project. BMPs are all placed in an Erosion Control Plan that an environmental agency must permit before any construction or land-disturbing activity. Some of the most common BMPs include silt fences, sediment basins, diversion ditches, check dams, and erosion control blankets that stabilize slopes created onsite.
Measures are also put into place to protect existing and new storm drain inlets from sedimentation, including rock-filled bags or straw wattles. This is only the beginning of the many BMPs available for all different kinds of sites. These measures are enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state environmental agencies and come with serious repercussions if not properly installed and maintained during land disturbance.
If state and federal standards and regulations are followed through the construction and development phases of a project, development activities can be conducted without causing negative effects to water bodies, flood control systems, and wildlife.