Importance of Controlling Erosion on Construction Projects

Why is it important to prevent erosion and sedimentation?

Erosion is the detachment and movement of soil particles by water, wind, and ice. Sedimentation is the process by which eroded soil is deposited into water bodies or onto land surfaces. Natural erosion occurs primarily on a geologic time scale, but when human activities alter the landscape, the erosion process can be greatly accelerated.

Each year, thousands of acres of land are exposed during the course of construction and development. Without protective practices, the land is left vulnerable to the ravages of wind and rain. The four types of soil erosion on exposed terrain are: splash, sheet, rill/gully, and stream/channel erosion that strip the land of the nutrient-rich topsoil. This causes soil degradation such as decreased soil productivity and increased loss of soil structure.

Sediment that erodes from these exposed areas accumulates in lakes, natural watercourses, and on adjoining properties. When sediment travels off-site with runoff into water bodies, it can accumulate on the bottom, harm aquatic life, increase turbidity, and restrict the amount of sunlight reaching aquatic plants. Sediment can also decrease the storage volume of water bodies and clog sewer storm drains which can increase the potential of flooding. Sediment in our water also increases the costs of power production and of treating municipal drinking water.

Best Management Practices (BMPs) can be used to control erosion and prevent off-site sedimentation, thus reducing water pollution due to sedimentation.