Sheetflow Construction Erosion and Sediment Control

September 17, 2019

Can’t Get Away From It

It doesn’t matter where I go, I always see some type of construction erosion issue. I went to visit relatives in Portland, Maine, flying in and out of Boston Logan International. In the terminal, waiting for my flight back home, I saw a construction project on the ramp; it had rained a few says before, hard. Obviously, the stockpile had not been covered before the storm and sediment washed off the pile into the drain.

I work at an airport that operates under strict turbidity effluent limits; here is how we do this kind of work:

(1) rarely do we allow stockpiles on the ramp because we rarely reuse the excavated material (it is either contaminated, unsuitable or doesn’t meet current FAA requirements); it is direct loaded into trucks and hauled off. When we do stockpile, we place dirt on plastic and cover it with plastic, using lots of sand bags to secure it from jet blast and wind.

(2) work areas are always isolated so there is no runoff from the site. Normally, we use four-inch extruded asphalt curbing along the base of the jersey barriers. Rolled hot mix asphalt (HMA) is used at the entrance point so water is contained but vehicles can access the site.  Water that builds up inside the curbing is pumped back into the excavation if clean, or a tank if contaminated.

I should have mentioned that we also have strict sediment trackout requirements: no visible sediment leaves the site at any time.  This is both because of the effluent limits and for safety reasons; dirt and debris that gets sucked up into a jet engine is damaging and possibly deadly.

Lastly, I am not casting aspersions on the folks at Logan; I don’t know their situation, permits, drainage system, or tolerance for risk.  Because of my situation, I have low risk tolerance for potential non-compliance with our permit and I notice when something would cause me grief at my airport.

September 10, 2019

Preparing for Fall and Winter Rains

It’s that time again…..

Winter is approaching, now is the time to get construction projects ready. Here are some things to consider:

Cover bare soil. Final grades can be covered with hydroseed, erosion blankets, topsoil, bark or whatever final cover is planned for the project.

Get your hydroseed contractor lined up now and avoid the October rush.

Don’t open up more than a few acres after September 1st.

Grades that aren’t being actively worked can be covered with straw at a rate of 1500 pounds per acre. This is a very cheap and effective way to protect bare soil from raindrop impacts and erosion. Hand seed before spreading the straw. Spray it with water to help hold it in place.

Track your slopes with a Cat: up and down slope, not across slope. The first helps prevent erosion, the second speeds it up.

Use flex pipe drains at bridge ends if your permanent drainage system and curbs are not in place. Collect the water from the bridge using sand bags and divert it to the pipe. Make sure the pipe is long enough to reach the bottom of the slope.

Use a water truck and water seeded areas weekly to get quicker growth. The better the growth going into winter the better.

If you have to open up a large area, only clear and grub small areas. You can clear larger areas if you don’t grub. Roots and slash help protect the bare soil.

Walk the site looking only at erosion controls, thinking ahead of areas that could have a problem. Identify them and start making additions and corrections.

Locate all existing water flows in and around your project and find out where they drain to.

Think about maintenance and regular inspection of erosion controls. When are silt fences going to be inspected and who does it? Who removes mud from check dams? Who covers slopes with straw or other mulch?

Get materials on site now. Again beat the rush for materials in October and November when everyone is in a panic to get plastic and straw. Stockpile enough straw, plastic, silt fence, flex pipe, sand bags, seed, rock, now to cover all areas that are bare.

Set up emergency procedures now. Who should be called in emergencies? Do you have a WSDOT certified Erosion and Spill Control Lead? Brief your personnel on what to do if they see muddy water and who to go to.
Make sure that erosion control material installers know proper installation methods.

Make sure all your silt fence is installed on contour with the ends flared up slope a few feet. If it is not on contour, identify the lowest points of the fence as these will be the failure spots. Install a double row of silt fence at these low spots before you have a failure. Double up your silt fence in areas where eroding slopes could flow into wetlands or streams.

Do you have bare spots where previous seeding hasn’t grown? Cover it with seed and straw if the area is small, remobilize the hydroseeder for larger areas.

Make sure all catch basins within the project boundary are protected with inserts, fence surrounds, or other methods to keep mud out. Locate any catchbasins outside project boundaries that may receive water from your site and protect them.

Make sure that you have a copy of the Stormwater Site Plan (SSP) and Temporary Erosion and Sediment Control plan (TESC) and any grading or environmental permits on site in the job shack. Know what they say. Give each inspector a copy of the SSP and TESC to keep in their truck. These are working copies that can be adapted to site conditions.

Modify your permanent stormwater ponds into temporary sediment ponds by installing a standpipe and blocking the outlet with sand bags. Cut a few small holes in the standpipe to allow for slow release of water. You can also use perforated pipe as the standpipe and hold it in place with “T” posts, wire, and gravel piled up around it.

Use geotextile fabric as a temporary ditch lining to protect bare soil from erosion. Hold the fabric in place with rock check dams, wooden stakes, or sand bags.

Make sure that all check dams are installed so that the top center point is lower than the bottom end points. This prevents endcutting. You may have to add more material to the dam to increase the width, especially on wide ditches with shallow grade side slopes

September 3, 2019

Temporary Irrigation for Erosion Control Grass Growth Success

August 27, 2019

Denver Dirt Pile

Just a nice dirt pile in Denver. Walking around between presentations at the International Erosion Control Conference in February 2019 and saw this. A little utility work in the street, going to reuse the excavated dirt, placed it on plastic, put some berms around base, no rain in the forecast and the dire goes back in the hole later in the day so no need for cover.

August 20, 2019

Truck Being Loaded on Asphalt Keeps Tires Clean

If I’ve said it once, I must have said it 3 or 4 times: “Keep your tires clean!”. Who wants to use a tire wash and have to get rid of a whole lot of dirty water (process water) that can’t go down the storm drain? Save yourself some hassle and money. Give your employees a raise with the money you save.

August 13, 2019

The Soaker Tire wash

These are great as long as the tires are not too muddy, the mud is not too sticky and the vehicle load is not too high. Most of the water is directed to the sidewalls and misses much of the mud hiding in the treads. These work great as the final , clean rinse cycle in conjunction with a tire bath best management practice. Chemical flocculants can be added to the water to remove much of the sediment load. Web site: www.sheetflow.com

Description from the website: http://www.thesoaker.com/

“The Soaker” is a portable, self-contained and environmentally friendly wheel washing system. The system does not require city power or water connected to it which makes it highly portable.

“The Soaker” can be installed on job sites, dump sites and material pits to help keep the surrounding streets free of mud and dirt.

Its aluminum and stainless steel construction makes “The Soaker” environmentally friendly.

It features a high capacity main tank of 4000 gallons and a reserve tank of 2000 gallons. Its adjustable spray heads provide a low pressure/high volume water stream of up to 1000gpm. Motion sensors detect the vehicles on approach and turn on the pumps so the water spray is at full power by the time the vehicles go through the wheel wash.

“The Soaker” is manufactured to provide solutions to problems such as portability, road pollution, costly cleaning processes, fines and violations for depositing debris onto public highways, etc…

“The Soaker” can be rented on a monthly basis or purchased. A lease purchase option is also available. For more information about “The Soaker” wheel washing system, please call us at: (818) 952-6752 or email at: soakerinfo@thesoaker.com

August 6, 2019

Sandbag Berm Sawcut Slurry Vacuum and Pump

July 30, 2019

Sediment Trackout Fail

Photo: Dave Jenkins

I’m not a big fan of the “Grizzly” method of trackout prevention. My standard is “No visible trackout” and these have never met that standard. Preventing tires from getting dirty in the first place is still the best BMP!

July 26, 2019

Down the Drain it Goes

Photo: David Jenkins

Then the sediment washing off of the uncovered stockpile drains into a catch basin which drains into a small salmon stream.

July 25, 2019

Nope, Just an Uncovered Stockpile after a Rain Storm

Photo: David Jenkins
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