May 16, 2011 04:52

Control Sediment Before It ControlsYou

PRIOR TO STARTING CONSTRUCTION, A general contractor posts that he is accepting bids for an erosion control project. You visit the site to get a feel for the project, measure the property and take pictures so you can work up the costs. While visiting the site, you notice that it is situated close to a stream. This factor will definitely affect your bid.

Before breaking ground on a project, it is important to consider the proper sediment controls that will need to be installed on and around the perimeter ofthe site. The loose soil holds both nutrients and pollutants that can and will leave the site with the help ofrain and wind. Ifthe proper controls aren’t put into place, this soil can find its way to a water source and end up contaminating it. Ifthat occurs, the project can be shut down by local and federal authorities and fines will be issued.

“Sediment is the number one non-point source pollutant,” says Nick Strazar, Filtrexx International, Grafton, Ohio. “A point source could clearly be defined coming from a certain area like a pipe or a factory but a non-point source can come from anywhere and everywhere.”

Once sediment runoff reaches a water source, it has the potential of killing aquatic life in the area. The nutrients and pollutants from the jobsite infect the water to the point where it becomes toxic to fish. Even ifthe water source isn’t poisoned, the sediment can dirty up the water to a point where the fish have trouble breathing.

“Fish and aquatic life start to die because the water’s not clean,” says Lance Raatsi, owner ofRLP Services, Hibbing, Minnesota. “It’s like a human breathing really dusty air. The sediment is like dust for a fish.”

Aside from the potential damage that can be caused by sediment runoff, local or even federal author ities may become involved, depending on how widespread the problem becomes. The state, municipalities, and federal EPA can issue fines that can exceed $100,000 for sediment control violations as well as threaten to close down the project.

“Sometimes, the authorities will order you to clean up the sediment within a certain amount oftime. You have to become compliant or they’ll fine you and shut you down,” says Raatsi. “It iflooks like somebody should already know about the procedures, they’ll just shut you down and issue a fine right there.”

Here are steps that should be taken to maintain proper sediment controls, and several solutions that will ensure the site will be compliant.

Straw wattles

One ofthe most basic and simple sediment controls is straw wattles. They are inexpensive and do a good

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