What is Erosion and Sediment Control?

In the dynamic realm of construction, there is a delicate balance between progress and environmental responsibility. Erosion and sediment control (ECS) emerge as pivotal players in this landscape, working in tandem to protect our ecosystems during construction endeavours. In this blog, we will dive into erosion and sediment control, standard ECS techniques used at construction sites, and tips for planning your erosion and sediment control services. 

What is erosion and sediment control in construction?

Erosion and sediment control (ECS) go hand in hand regarding landscaping, but they are different. Erosion control lowers erosion risk, while sediment control reduces the flow or deposition of minerals to a construction site. Erosion and sediment control measures can be temporarily or permanently installed on a site. Commonly used measures include topsoiling, silt fences, wattles, and slope texturing. By comparison, permanent measures include rock checks, silt fences, sediment ponds, and offtake ditches.

Sediment controls act as a second layer of defence in erosion and sediment control. Due to many moving parts on a construction site, changes to the level or surface of land through grading can result in erosion by wind and water. It is essential to consider when erosion and sediment control measures should be implemented during the planning phase to determine where they are needed and who will be involved. Additionally, erosion and sediment control in residential or urban development projects must include routine inspections to ensure procedures are followed.

Erosion and sediment control can be found in:

  • Urban stormwater flow
  • Stream corridors
  • Forestry
  • Agriculture
  • Road development

Why is erosion and sediment control important?

Erosion and sediment control takes a practical approach to protecting the environment. Erosion from construction sites can have long-term effects on nearby ecosystems, with reduced soil quality, water pollution, and destroyed ecosystems. As eroded soil and sediments move from construction sites into the water, sediment can smother feeding and spawning areas and limit sunlight from reaching underwater plants. 

Through good planning and implementation, erosion and sediment controls (temporary or permanent) will reduce the need for more expensive sediment controls and ensure you are following federal and provincial environmental regulations. ECS must be timed appropriately to limit bare soil exposure to wind and rain as to reduce erosion risk and be effective.

What causes soil erosion?

Soil erosion, a natural process accelerated by human activities, poses a significant hazard during construction. Excavation, filling, and paving expose land to erosion, mainly by stormwater, which picks up sediment and relocates it elsewhere. When sediment settles in water bodies, the aftermath of this process triggers a cascade of consequences such as increased turbidity, loss of depth, compromised fish spawning areas, and heightened algal productivity. These impacts threaten aquatic habitats and water quality, emphasizing the urgent need for sustainable construction practices that mitigate soil erosion risks and safeguard our delicate ecosystems.

What are erosion control blankets?

Erosion control blankets are a temporary biodegradable material installed at the start of a construction project to reduce soil movement. ECS blankets are designed with an open weave cover and support new vegetation growth, trying to establish itself on bare soil. The ECS blankets last between 12 and 36 months, depending on the soil conditions, slowing breaking down as vegetation grows over time. They are usually found in ditches or river bank expansions.

What are the techniques used for erosion and sediment control?

  • Soil Cover: Recognized as the easiest and most cost-effective erosion control measure, soil cover involves strategically managing the earth’s surface to shield it from erosive forces.
  • Control Matting: Employed to minimize the impact of rain on bare soil, control matting acts as a protective shield, reducing the erosive force of water.
  • Compost Filter Socks: These socks serve as practical barriers, helping to pond sediment runoff and preventing it from entering water bodies, thereby safeguarding aquatic habitats.
  • Mulch, Grass, and Erosion Control Blankets: Utilized to stabilize soil, these materials act as a protective layer, preventing erosion and promoting vegetation establishment.
  • Co-Polymer Soil Stabilizers: These innovative additives enhance soil cohesion, reducing its susceptibility to erosion and providing an environmentally friendly solution to soil stabilization.
  • Vegetation Establishment with Compost Materials: Integrating compost materials into establishing vegetation aids in slope stabilization, fostering a more resilient and ecologically balanced environment.
  • Concrete Blocks: Deployed strategically, concrete blocks serve as physical barriers, preventing soil displacement and erosion in critical areas.
  • Site Inspections: Regular inspections ensure the effectiveness of erosion and sediment control measures, allowing for prompt adjustments and maintaining environmental compliance.
  • Construction Phasing and Planning: A proactive approach involves careful construction phasing and planning, minimizing the disruption of natural landscapes and mitigating erosion risks.

What should an erosion control plan include?

The best way to implement erosion and sediment control on your construction site is to follow a detailed plan. Consider tight deadlines and the project’s goal during the construction planning phase. Your plan should include the following:

  • Minimize Clearing and Grading: Map and flag areas on the site for protection, minimizing unnecessary disturbance to the landscape. Clearly labelling the worksite can help ensure clear communication with contractors and within your team.
  • Protect Waterways: Install proper sediment control measures (MPS) to impede sediment movement, ensuring waterways remain shielded from harmful runoff.
  • Stabilize Exposed Soils ASAP: Swiftly stabilize exposed soils to prevent erosion, using methods such as vegetation cover or erosion control blankets.
  • Protect Steep Slopes and Cuts: Pay special attention to steep slopes and cuts, implementing measures to fortify these vulnerable areas against erosion.
  • Perimeter Controls to Filter Sediments: Establish perimeter controls that act as a frontline defence, filtering sediments before they can reach water bodies.
  • Inspection and Maintenance of BMPs: Regularly inspect and maintain Best Management Practices (BMPs) to ensure their effectiveness in mitigating erosion risks. We recommend having an external contractor or department lead the inspection to ensure everything is completed during installation.

How can we help?

Are you looking for erosion and sediment control services for the Edmonton area? We’ve got you covered! When it comes to delivering for your customers and keeping up with project timelines, we can help with everything you need for construction maintenance services. You can count on us to be ready to take care of your delegation list to keep your project on time and within budget. The tasks that fall by the wayside are our bread and butter because we believe there is no such thing as a small task. How can we help you with a project today? Contact us today to discuss your project maintenance needs and learn about our erosion and sediment control services.

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