Erosion Control Design Overview
What is Erosion Control Design
Most people are aware that erosion is a natural process by which wind and water wash away soil over time. But were you aware of how detrimental this process can be to the developed areas where we all live and work?
Erosion control design is the process by which an engineer develops plans to slow the effects of erosion on a specific site. A construction team will then employ several different methods to carry out that plan in the field.
These services are vital to large construction projects in which construction machinery has disturbed and de-vegetated a significant area of land. Erosion design control is also beneficial to existing developments that face strong erosion forces such as those by the seashore.
Additionally, erosion control is helpful in the preservation of agricultural lands. It can contribute to other environmental conservation efforts as well.
At times, this service acts as a preventative measure against wind and water. In other instances, it plays a role in restoring previously damaged sites. That is why erosion control design comes in many forms, which share the same goal of slowing the rate of soil displacement to preserve the structural integrity of surrounding buildings and landscapes.
What Problems It Solves:
Advantages & Disadvantages of Erosion Control Design
Let’s now take a look at some of the primary advantages and disadvantages of erosion control design. We’ll begin by looking at the major benefits that this practice can provide. Most notably, erosion control design can:
- Reduce erosion
- Slow stormwater runoff
- Maintain regulatory compliance for development projects
- Minimizes ecological disturbances
- Preserve shorelines
- Restore wetland areas
- Protect fallow farm fields
There are several more benefits to erosion control design, but those are some of the most important ones. Now, let’s look at a few of the downsides to this service. Two of the most common complaints are that erosion control design will:
- Increase construction costs
- Add to the time it takes to complete construction projects.
Those cons may have some validity, but they represent a shortsighted approach. During construction, it seems that speed of completion is one of the most important objectives.
However, taking the time to implement a good erosion control design process is what will help such developments have a long lifespan. Now we’ll proceed to a quick description of what that process looks like.
Erosion Control Design Process
The erosion control design process is extensive and includes many technical details that require expert knowledge to understand. We won’t try to cover all of those details. But we will give you a basic outline of the steps involved in the erosion control design process:
- Site analysis: The team of designers will evaluate the site to determine what erosion control measures are applicable.
- Plan development: Based on the site analysis findings, the team will draw a plan that calls for specific erosion control tactics and dictates where those will exist on the site.
- Design implementation: The construction team will use the plan to build the erosion control components on the site. This step will usually include some form of perimeter sediment control. After that, the construction team may use other methods such as erosion control blankets, grading tactics, and/or retaining walls. Again, the specific materials at this stage will depend on what the designers feel the site needs.
- Regulatory compliance: Throughout the entire process, all parties must remain in compliance with any local, state, or federal regulations regarding construction and erosion control methods.
Notice that during plan development, the designers may call for one or more versions of erosion control. Now that you see how the process works as a whole, we’ll move on to discuss what some of those types of erosion control are.
Different Types of Erosion Control Design
There are many different versions of erosion control design. Each one is useful for one or more different scenarios. Here are some of the most common means that professionals use to control erosion.
- Soil stabilization – One of the most common ways to manage erosion is through soil stabilization. Whether you are mulching or hydroseeding, soil stabilization slows the rate of soil displacement.
- Erosion control blankets – This method is a quick fix for an area of exposed soil. Erosion control blankets are synthetic mats that construction workers lay on the ground to shield the earth below from wind and rain.
- Retaining wall construction – Retaining walls are a great way to manage erosion on steep slopes. These structures help make those slopes less severe and work to slow stormwater runoff.
- Perimeter sediment control – This type of erosion control comes in many forms, such as silt fences or berms. Regardless of the variety, perimeter sediment control defines the extent of a construction site and holds all sediment within that area.
- Stormwater management systems – These systems can include basins, swales, and other constructions. They channel water in an orderly way so that it does not erode the entire site.
- Preservation and addition of Vegetation – Vegetation is highly effective for controlling erosion. Whether that vegetation is new or existing, its roots will hold soil in place better than many other methods.
All of those methods work in some capacity to reduce the effect of water and wind. Often, designers will combine multiple methods on a single site to create a comprehensive approach to erosion control.
Alternative Solutions to Erosion Control Design
There are very few viable alternatives to erosion control design. Now that we are gaining a better understanding of how agriculture and development can affect the environment, environmental regulations are ubiquitous.
Those regulations work to ensure that construction sites minimize environmental harm now and in the future. In the present, one of the best ways to do that is through erosion control.
If you wish to reduce the need for erosion control design, the best approach is to adopt a construction process that has minimal impact on the environment. But even then, some form of erosion control will remain beneficial.
Erosion Control Design vs. Hydraulic Dredging
One service that shares a close relationship with erosion control design is hydraulic dredging. This process involves the removal of eroded sediment and can be very beneficial when cleaning up a site.
Despite that advantage, hydraulic dredging is not always a great replacement for erosion control design. The main disadvantage here is that hydraulic dredging is more of a reactive approach to dealing with erosion that has already occurred. It does not do much to help prevent future erosion the way that erosion control design would.
Costs of Erosion Control Design
It is hard to give an estimate for the cost of an erosion control design plan. That is partly due to the fact that every site that needs erosion control is unique. The size of the site, as well as the variety and quantity of erosion control measures, will determine the price.
At times, this can amount to several thousand to several million dollars depending on the scope of the project. When determining the cost of one of these projects, it is best to research pricing standards in your region. You might also want to consult a local professional for some guidance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Erosion control is important because it reduces damage to the landscape. Without this practice, natural erosion and human behavior would continue to remove soil to the detriment of people and the ecosystem.
An erosion control plan is a physical document that determines the type and location of erosion control measures for a given site.
BMP stands for best management practice. In erosion control design, this term refers to a set of standard practices that help to ensure that designers and contractors are creating and implementing effective erosion control plans.
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