Sediment control is the process or implementation of strategies to combat soil erosion. Soil erosion can contaminate waterways and harm the environment. Not only is soil unnaturally entering streams and rivers a serious environmental concern, but construction projects often leave soil contaminated due to the chemicals involved in construction. This is mostly unavoidable, but construction companies must do what they can to avoid polluting local waterways by adhering to state and federal laws in regards to soil erosion. Most states have their own state-specific laws and governments have broader federal laws in regards to controlling soil erosion.
Sediment control is important not just for the reputations of construction companies but also for the state of the environment. Contaminated finished construction sites don’t do anyone any good – uninhabitable sites do not inspire repeat business and construction companies who operate outside of the law expose themselves to heavy government fines. Sediment control law aims to protect the aquatic life of our streams, rivers, lakes and oceans. The health of our water systems directly affects the human population. All environmental systems are connected. Proper sediment control also affects the safety of local constituents, as soil erosion can clog sewers and drainage systems that aim to combat flooding.
There are several strategies used to combat soil erosion. Some are obligatory in accordance with law. The most basic of such strategies is to install what’s called a geo-textile sediment fence around the perimeter of the work site. These fences keep loose soil from moving laterally due to wind and other factors. Hay bales are also used to good effect in this way. Water channels should be diverted away from the construction site in a way that does not carry sediment away with it. Leave as much vegetation as possible on the site to avoid sediment runoff. Cleanup-specific areas are designated which keeps movement of soil contained to one specific part of the construction site. Every construction site is different and has its own unique qualities and obstacles. Some sediment control measures are more effective than others depending on the circumstances. Therefore, assessment must be made before construction begins and on a specific case by case basis.