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Soil erosion is one of the major concerns at construction sites but is often neglected. On top of that, construction works churn up the soil making it more vulnerable to erosion. A heavy runoff due to rain or any other construction activity results in the washing away of soil, which though is a slow process, but if not rectified initially, can result in project delay.

The severity of soil erosion varies depending on several factors, which require different approaches for its prevention. The control of soil erosion helps preserve and protect the construction site and the structure, thus promoting sustainable construction.

This article explains some of the measures to control soil erosion on a construction site.

Measures to Control Soil Erosion on Construction Sites

Some of the important construction practices to control soil erosion are:

  1. Minimize disturbed area on the construction site
  2. Divide the project into sections
  3. Soil stabilization
  4. Slope protection 
  5. Runoff water control methods
  6. Storm inlets
  7. Dewatering 
  8. Sediment control traps for construction site
  9. Construction entrances
  10. Site inspections

1. Minimize Disturbed Area on Construction Site

During the preparation of a site for construction, it is advised to disturb only the area required for the project. The rest of the area should be left undisturbed to conserve the natural vegetation and the topsoil.

2. Divide the Project into Sections

While working on sites prone to erosion, divide the working land into different sections to control the erosion and sedimentation in a phased manner. The erosion control for each section should then be undertaken in an orderly way, one after the other.

3. Soil Stabilization

Soil stabilization can be achieved either temporarily or permanently, depending on the requirement of the project. The use of mulch, blankets, and wood binders can act as a temporary measure. The permanent methods include planting, seeding, green buffer, and channel stabilization.

4. Slope Protection

The slopes can be protected through several methods in order to control soil erosion. The method chosen depends on the slope of the land. Various methods include:

  • Geo-textiles
  • Turf blankets
  • Mats
  • Silt fencing
  • Fiber rolls
Slope Protection by Geo cells-Image Courtesy: Geosynthetica
Slope Protection by Geocells
Image Courtesy: Geosynthetica

5. Runoff Water Control Methods

Some of the methods used to control the runoff water within and around the construction sites are:

  • Sediment traps or ditches
  • Turbidity barriers
  • Soil nails
  • Articulated concrete blocks
  • Riprap
  • Geotextiles

7. Dewatering

The groundwater or accumulated rainwater can be removed from the construction site by using dewatering methods. For massive projects, special permits are required to undertake dewatering techniques.

Dewatering at Construction Site; Image Courtesy: Texas Erosion Supply
Dewatering at Construction Site
Image Courtesy: Texas Erosion Supply

8. Sediment Control Traps

Runoff water on construction sites can be reduced by employing sediment control traps or basins. These units help the sediments to settle before the water is discharged. The sediment basins are constructed with a capacity to store at least two years of stormwater.

Sediment Traps- Image Courtesy: https://transportation.ky.gov/
Sediment Traps
Image Courtesy: Commonwealth of Kentucky

9. Stable Construction Entrances

The sediments can get carried away by the movement of construction vehicles at a site. Two stabilized construction entrances mainly made of crushed stone help reduce the amount of sediments getting carried away. This entrance requires regular maintenance, and the crushed stones are required to be replaced with new stones every time.

Construction Entrance-Image Courtesy: http://www.socalsandbags.com/
Construction Entrance
Image Courtesy: socalsandbags

A typical construction entrance to control sediments is made at a length of 50 feet. If this is not possible, it is recommended to wash off the tires of the vehicles that come in and out of the project site.

10. Site Inspections

Regular inspections of the project site can control the sediment and erosion problems to a large extent. After every storm or runoff, the site must be inspected for any issues. Scheduled inspections can ensure that the implemented erosion control system is working correctly and facilitates the early detection of potential problems.

FAQs

How does construction cause soil erosion?

Construction works churn up the soil making it more vulnerable to erosion. A heavy runoff due to rain or any other construction activity results in the washing away of soil, which though is a slow process, but if not rectified initially, can result in project delay.

How to control soil erosion at construction sites?

Some of the important construction practices to control soil erosion are:
Minimize disturbed area on the construction site
Divide the project to phases
Soil stabilization
Slope protection 
Runoff water control methods
Storm inlets
Dewatering 
Sediment control traps for construction site
Construction entrances
Site inspections

What are the different methods to control runoff erosion at construction site?

Several methods can be used to control the runoff water within and around the construction sites. Some of the methods include sediment traps or ditches, turbidity barriers, soil nails, articulated concrete blocks, riprap, and geotextiles.

Read More:

  1. Quality and Safety Concern in Building Construction
  2. What are construction Barriers?

Neenu Arjun

Neenu Arjun

EDITOR
Neenu is a Civil and Structural Engineer and has experience in Design of Concrete and Steel Structures. She is an Author, Editor and Partner at theconstructor.org.

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