By nature, most valuable construction projects possess the potential to cause sediment pollution. Whether slight or severe, sediment pollution can end up harming more than just a pretty view. Take a look at these ways sediment pollution hurts the environment and what your construction site can do about it.
Sediment Pollution Increases Water Turbidity
Water turbidity is the measure of how cloudy or clear a body of water appears. Very turbid water contains a high amount of silt, clay, and other sediments and is nearly impossible to see through. Turbid water caused by sediment pollution and runoff is harmful to the environment in several ways.
Threatens Aquatic Life
Many aquatic species depend on sight and movement to detect their food. If water is very murky, fish and other organisms are unable to see their prey. Additionally, because light filters through more turbid water with great difficulty, plants that grow below the surface struggle to photosynthesize properly.
When fish and plant life fight for life, the entire aquatic food chain is affected. Heavy sedimentation increases the likelihood that species disappear from a body of water.
Raises Water Treatment Costs
Increased turbidity in water leads to higher water treatment costs. Because more pollutants are present in turbid water, utility treatment plants must use more chemicals to disinfect water, adjust pH, and encourage coagulation.
Chemicals like soda ash, alum, and activated carbon ensure a final product is safe and drinkable. A tiny 1% jump in turbidity raises these and other chemical costs by 0.25%. In fact, one million gallons of treated water costs an additional $95.
Spoils Recreational Potential
A recreational body of water such as a lake depends on good water clarity and appearance. When sediment clouds water in a lake or reservoir, that body of water is no longer safe to enjoy. Murky water can hide dangerous objects like logs, rock formations, or underwater debris.
Nutrients present in sediment increase the intensity and duration of naturally occurring algae blooms, which can be dangerous to water quality and anyone who chooses to enter the water to recreate. Some algae blooms release toxins that are linked to skin rashes and illness.
Sediment Pollution Settles Everywhere
When sediment filters through water, it eventually settles down and comes to a rest. Tiny particles like silt and clay settle very slowly while larger particles like gravel and sand settle very quickly. Sediment pollution eventually chokes drainage ditches and water intakes and fills stream channels and reservoirs.
Sediment can harm aquatic life as well. It alters the surfaces of important aquatic breeding grounds and prevents fish population growth. Particles can become trapped in fish gills.
Solutions for Construction Sites
Fortunately, you can prevent much of sediment pollution with careful planning and implementation of different types of erosion control.
During construction, employ silt fences to trap soil and other sediment but still allow water to flow through naturally. Silt fences can be used on level ground and slopes to prevent the accidental runoff of topsoil and other materials.
Additionally, the use of erosion control blankets can lessen the likelihood of soil erosion throughout construction.
To further protect a fragile site near completion of construction, special erosion control blankets aid can help aid in the growth of new vegetation. Because plant life is one of the best ways to keep soil secure on slopes and other areas, these blankets continue battling erosion even after a site is closed.
When your construction site is ready to lessen the impact of sediment pollution to the surrounding environment, visit us at DX2 Geosyntex, Inc. We offer a range of erosion control methods like silt fences and erosion control blankets designed to prevent harmful sediment pollution.