Erosion and Sediment Control: Best Management Practices and Understanding Professional Certification Programs

Article excerpt

The protection of water sources and the implementation of methods to limit the pollutants that enter the waterways is an issue at the forefront of government and industry discussions worldwide. It affects all aspects of the landscape industry; backflow devices are required on irrigation systems to protect ,the entrance of pollutants into the potable water systems and best management practices (BMPs) in the construction and landscape industry are required to control soil erosion and storm water runoff.

Several factors contribute to soil erosion. Heavy rainfall, the removal of a majority of existing vegetation, naturally erodible soils, and steep slopes can create pollution for surrounding water sources. "The number one pollutant in waterways worldwide is soil," said Rob Yoakum, international sales and tech support with Profile Products.

Legislation to control erosion and sediment runoff began December 8, 1999 when the Federal Register published the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), which subsequently went into effect on March 10, 2003. Incorporated as part of the Clean Water Act, which protects clean drinking water, the NPDES is an extension that covers clean water on recreation sties and clean waterways for food sources such as fish. Storm water discharges from construction sites and other activities that disturb one acre or more of land also fall under NPDES regulation.

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The Stormwater Pollution Protection Plan (SWPPP), which falls under the NPDES umbrella, incorporates select BMPs on the site to provide maximum protection against soil erosion and storm water runoff. "The goal of using a BMP is to control the sediment loss on site while establishing vegetation and establishing it quickly," said Yoakum. "The number one best erosion control out there is vegetation." Once an SWPPP is designed for the site, the EPA grants a permit allowing construction to begin.

There are several BMPs available. As Yoakum noted, establishing vegetation is the best protection against soil erosion on a site. Hydroseeding and/or erosion blankets--available in straw, jute or synthetic fibers--can be used to establish ground cover and vegetation. Selection of hydromulch material or blanket type will depend on each specific site condition. In addition to using BMPs to encourage vegetation, there are several options that can aid in controlling sediment runoff. Silt fence can be installed around the site's perimeter to prevent runoff. Similarly, silt socks and triangle silt dikes can be used to protect storm drains from site sediment runoff. Controlling dust on site is also a critical part of an SWPPP. Water additives can be used to limit the amount of dust that enters the air. "When you sit right down and look at it, using a BMP is much more cost effective than people think," said Yoakum. "The contractor can be fined up to $22,000 a day under Phase II regulation if they are not in compliance."

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Storm water runoff and sediment control are now in the spotlight as critical aspects of keeping the green industry "green." Like other professions that impact the public's well being--such as doctors, lawyers and engineers where professional competency is expected--individuals who design and inspect the implementation of SWPPPs are required to demonstrate a thorough understanding of related erosion and storm water quality practices.

CPESC, CPSWQ and CESSWI

CPESC, Inc., a non-profit corporation, provides three types of certification programs based upon the Phase II regulations. CPESC, Inc. was co-founded by The Soil and Water Conservation Society and The International Erosion Control Association, groups that strive to bring continuing education to the industry's professionals. …