Sept. 20, 2010 05:11


Developer to Repair Erosion Damage

A local developer in Kalamazoo, Michigan, has been cited by the city’s director of community planning and development for failing to protect residential property from an unstable slope while he was developing an adjacent commercial property. A mound of dirt that stood as a divide between the business district and a number of homes collapsed after a torrential rain. Residents said water cascaded down the slope and caused it to give way, leaving massive amounts of mud and sand on their property. Sand, dirt and debris also blocked city storm drainage ways.

Damage done by the eroded soil included the collapse of a privacy fence at the top of the mound, the collapse of an earthen berm, the substantial erosion of earth and berm, and the erosion of topsoil, seed and newly planted trees. The developer was also cited for violations of the Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Act.

The city will require the developer to submit a plan of corrective measures for all affected areas, prepared by a licensed engineer. The developer will also have to produce details of intended additions and corrections to the storm system and provide regular maintenance.

Illinois Soil Erosion Declines

According to recently released statewide data for the National Resources Inventory (NRI), the rate of soil erosion on Illinois cropland has steadily declined over the last 24 years. The NRI is a statistical survey of natural resource conditions and trends on non-federal land in the United States—of which Illinois has more than 33 million acres.

Additional data from the NRI shows that average water erosion rates on pastureland have declined by 38% since 1982—before provisions of conservation compliance were required for producers working with the USDA.

A National Resources Conservation Service says conservation practices and treatments, such as no-till planting, terraces, conservation tillage, strip-cropping, contour farming and conservation cover planted on highly-erodible ground are all part of the reasons behind the decline of erosion.

Soil Conservation District Fees Illegal

Howard County, Maryland officials say that increased development review fees announced by the independent Soil Conservation District (SCD) are illegal. Fees of $80 per disturbed acre for review of soil erosion and sediment control plans were recently approved by the county council, but the SCD board of supervisors informed builders that they will begin charging $290 an acre instead. County officials don’t believe the SCD has the legal authority to implement the increase, while the SCD argues that they don’t believe the county has the authority to set the fees.

All new home developments must have their plans reviewed and approved by the SCD, which, according to SCD representatives, is a unique organization and not an agency of either county or state government.

Properties in certain parts of the county could have as many as 100 acres in need of review. Under the SCD fee schedule, the review plans could end up costing a developer almost $30,000.

Coal Mines Fined for Soil Erosion

BNI Coal, Bismarck, North Dakota, is facing fines for soil erosion around a 5' culvert at the company’s Center Mine in North Dakota. The State Public Service Commission reported the erosion caused some waste materials to get washed into a nearby creek and also damaged part of a county section line road.

Also cited was Dakota Westmoreland Corporation’s Beulah Mine for poor maintenance of a berm, which allowed some soil and gravel to get washed onto property outside the coal mine.

Developer Fined For Destroying Wetlands

The Environmental Protection Agency has fined an Anchorage, Alaska, developer $177,500 for destroying wetlands and streams on his property. According to the EPA, beginning in 2005 the developer illegally excavated 1,300 feet of streams, causing erosion and sediment to flow into a nearby creek that is used by salmon to spawn. In addition, he filled nearly an acre of wetlands with excavated stream material.

The EPA reportedly sent the developer warnings over the years, including a compliance order in 2007, requiring him to restore the damaged wetlands and streams. The developer continually ignored the warnings and continued to dredge and fill the streams and wetlands on his property until at least July 2008, according to the EPA.

Study Finds Montana Soil Erosion Decreasing

A newly released report compiled by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) National Resources Inventory (NRI) has shown that soil erosion in Montana has decreased 39% over a 25-year period. Officials say the report showed that soil erosion declined from 10.5 tons per acres per year to 6.4 tons per acre per year during the land-use patterns between 1982 and 2007.

About 90% of that amount was land enrolled in the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program. Nearly 69% of the non-federally owned rural land in Montana is not categorized as developed. The report says nearly 57% of that land is rangeland and 27% is cropland and pastureland. Geosyntec Makes Management Changes Wayne Huber, Ph.D., P.E has joined Geosyntec. He will work out of the Portland, Oregon office as a senior consultant in watershed and stormwater management.

Huber brings many years of experience in stormwater modeling, water resources, urban hydrology, and environmental issues in natural waters. Before joining the firm, he spent more than 40 years in research and teaching at the University of Florida and Oregon State University, collectively.

In addition to serving as a senior consultant at Geosyntec, Huber serves as professor emeritus of civil and construction engineering at OSU. He received his B.S. in engineering from the California Institute of Technology and both his M.S. and Ph.D in civil engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

City Develops Erosion Control Standards

The City of Round Rock, Texas, is writing a new chapter for the Drainage Design and Construction Standards Manual that aims to develop erosion and sediment control standards for construction site stormwater runoff.

Serving as a reference guide for design engineers and contractors, it will provide detailed instructions on the installation and maintenance of erosion and sediment control best management practices (BMPs). It will also highlight the most commonly used erosion and sediment control practices for both temporary and permanent erosion controls.

The new chapter will be available for public review and comment later this fall. It is expected to be adopted by January of 2011.

$200,000 Grant Approved

A project to stop shoreline erosion in West Atlantic City moved forward when the Egg Harbor Township Committee, New Jersey, recently approved a $200,000 state grant.

Gabions will be installed in parts of an existing sand dune to help stop continuing erosion. The rock-filled wire baskets will absorb the wave impact during high tides and high southwest winds that eat away the fragile shoreline.

This man-made sand dune has been the subject of great controversy over the last couple of years. Local residents have complained that the dune obstructs their view of the water. Dune erosion has also caused nearby storm drains to fill and flooding to worsen.

Also in Soil Erosion News

In many ways, we are fortunate that, in our chosen profession, we are able to help people when certain disasters occur: the tornadoes in Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Georgia, the flooding in Louisiana, the snows in the northeastern part of the country, the rain in California, and the snow in Colorado....

Do not miss another issue.
Read the new issue of Soil Erosion Magazine online