How Does Erosion Control Impact the Construction Industry

How Does Erosion Control Impact the Construction Industry

Any new construction, particularly on a virgin lot, is going to involve some earth moving. Trees and other vegetation must be cleared. Fill may need to be brought in. The land will need to be graded. Such activities disturb the existing contours of construction sites and can often change the flow of water and the movement of sediments through them. For this reason, an important part of a construction contractor’s job is to take appropriate erosion control measures.

What is Erosion Control?

Erosion control is the practice of containing soils on a site, especially preventing wind and water from pushing them into nearby wetlands or onto roadways where they can enter the storm drainage system.

Why is Erosion Control Important?

The role of erosion control is to hold water and sediments on-site to protect man-made structures and human property. It is especially important and necessary for the protection of wetlands and watercourses. Wetlands play a huge role in our ecosystems, providing habitat for various plants and wildlife. They are essential for water quality, filtering sediments and toxins before they reach larger bodies of water.

What Erosion Control Measures Should Contractors Take to Prevent Erosion?

Before any construction project can begin, a professional engineer or land surveyor well-versed in land use and development projects is typically brought on board. Local permits will also need to be taken out for the work. This will require the applicant to go before a commission or other local body that is charged with protecting the environment in their jurisdiction and overseeing any regulated activities nearby.

Engineered Solutions

This permitting body may or may not approve the application, but if it does, it may require various engineered solutions to be installed for erosion control as part of the project. Engineered solutions may include such activities as installing on-site sediment detention ponds to capture water runoff, or creating swales to direct excess flow to a desired area. It may require the installation of stone riprap on steep slopes or around heavier areas of water, such as in bridge construction.

Whether the construction contractor is involved at the get-go of a given project’s application or is brought on later, they’ll need to carefully adhere to any required engineered solutions.

Temporary Preventive Measures

The permitting body may also require various preventive measures. These may include installing temporary barriers such as putting down hay bales or installing silt fencing to prevent soil runoff caused by water or wind. It may require the planting of vegetation when the project is nearing completion, particularly on steep slopes. There’s a good reason for it. Vegetation helps to slow the flow of water so it can better infiltrate the soil and be contained on-site.

Any erosion control activities required need to be factored into the cost and timeline of construction projects.

Construction disturbs the natural contours of a property and it’s up to contractors working on a site to do their work appropriately and complete it in a timely manner. An important part of their responsibility includes protecting the wider human and natural environment by ensuring effective erosion control measures are in place. Ignoring them can result in serious repercussions including hefty fines and cleanup costs. It can result in a project being quickly shut down and possibly the demise of the business.