Erosion and Sedimentation Control
Sediments are Pollutants!
Rain can wash the soil from unvegetated areas (this is called erosion) and deposit it into the stormwater collection system or surface waters (this is called sedimentation). There is the greatest potential for erosion when vegetation is removed, such as land clearing for construction.
Sediments can smother creek habitats despite being just dirt. This ruins habitat that is needed by fish and aquatic insects. Aquatic insects are the base of the food chain and are important for all the larger critters-like fish, birds, otters, and frogs. Sediment can also transport hazardous materials such as oils, hydraulic fluids, pesticides, and fertilizers. Sediment in the stormwater collection system can cause flooding and can be expensive to remove. Don't forget that most stormwater systems flow directly to our waterways without any treatment so these sediments and the associated hazards go to our waterways.
Construction Erosion and Sediment Controls
Sediment must stay on site at construction sites. The best way to do this, is to disturb as little area as possible, clear vegetation in phases. Erosion and sediment controls (or Best Management Practices) must be used to keep any disturbed soils stable. Typical controls include silt fences, inlet protection, and gravel construction entrance. Construction sites are regulated by the Public Works Departments of the municipality or county. However, ACEPD will take enforcement action through the Water Quality Code if necessary.
This silt fence will fail if sediment is not removed.
A construction site needs a permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Department (FDEP) if the site will disturb more than one acre of land or if it may discharge to a water of the state or a permitted stormwater collection system. Download a permit application to determine if your site needs a permit. As part of the FDEP permit a stormwater pollution prevention plan must be submitted.
Dewatering permits are required for all de-watering activities on construction sites. To obtain these permits you must contact the St Johns River Water Management District or the Suwannee River Water Management District.
Local governments review stormwater pollution prevention plans for completeness and inspect erosion and sediment controls to insure that the plans are followed.
Training and Additional Resources
Alachua County and the Gainesville Clean Water Partnership offer the Florida Stormwater, Erosion, and Sediment Control Inspector Training and Certification Program, annually. The next class will be held in the summer of 2017 and materials will be posted soon!
ACEPD put together a vendor list to help you locate the products needed on your construction site and a guide to BMPs. The University of Central Florida's Stormwater Academy hosts trainings and has some helpful information on their site: http://www.stormwater.ucf.edu/
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection posts upcoming trainings all over the state and has a helpful manual that can be downloaded at http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/nonpoint/erosion.htm