Archive for February 17th, 2011

Posted by: ahowland | 17th Feb, 2011

Co-curricular Activity: Get the Dirt Out

            On February 9, 2011, the Friends of the Rappahannock gave a presentation talking about construction sites. Construction sites can potentially be very damaging to the environment. They move the soil all around and without proper practices, the soil runs off into the environment through stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff pollutes the environment, increasing the amount of sediment in waterways and is quickly becoming a leading environmental problem in Virginia. From the construction sites, stormwater runoff can also produce erosion, sheet erosion, rill erosion, gully erosion, and a less stable ground. However, in Virginia, there are two programs to control construction site erosion. They are the ETS program, which gives construction managers detailed steps to follow with a minimum of 19 standards to follow and lists Best Management Practices (BMP) to limit pollution. The other program is the State General Program. This program also gives detailed steps to follow, lists BMPs to limit pollution, standards to follow, and for them to certify SWPPP.

            The Friends of the Rappahannock also included 9 general Best Management Practices for construction sites to follow in their presentation. The BMPs are first Construction Entrances and they say that huge stones should be present at the entrance of the site with a stone pad under it laid with a filter cloth and for them to clean mud off the tires so the dirt doesn’t get onto the streets. Second is Disturbed Area Stabilization which protects erosion from occurring from rain by planting grasses or laying down mulch. The third BMP is Perimeter Controls which slows down sheet flows and prevents sediment from leaving the construction site through things such as silt fences. Fourth is Inlet Protection which prevents sediment-laden water from entering drain systems through laying down curb inlets and screens. Fifth is Outlet Protection which is like the fourth BMP but for drains. The sixth and seventh BMPs are Sediment Basins and Sediment Traps, both of which is a temporary pond area to trap polluted sediment filled water and let it settle down to the bottom of the pond. The eighth BMP is Diversion Dikes to intercept water flow and lastly the ninth BMP is Sediment Stockpiles which holds soil so it can be reused.

            The presentation ended with them saying how important it is to make sure construction sites are following the BMPs and that anyone can evaluate a site if they know what to look for. They said that “With limited resources and time, we must focus regulatory attention on violators who are impacting the environment the most.” While some construction sites are bigger violators than others, it is still important to pay attention to very site, and ordinary people can help do that. Every single person can get involved and help restore Virginia’s waterways.

            I thought that this was an excellent presentation. It was very informative, and with the provided pictures in the slideshow and in the brochure, everyone who attended the presentation knows exactly what to look for at construction sites. It is easy to tell what is a good management practice and what is a bad one. And I think that the website they gave us where you can send pictures in of poor construction sites and the date is a great idea. It allows ordinary citizens who care about protecting our environment to get involved and help out without feeling like they are getting in over their head. As the presenter said, I can’t help but now look at all construction sites I pass and look at their practices. The entire time I was listening to him, I kept thinking about our own construction site on campus where the new building is being built next to Jepson. Every time I walk by that place, I look at it taking in all the management practices enforced to prevent erosion. Through this very interesting and educational talk I am now aware of potential erosion dangers at construction sites, which is something I’ve never thought about before. I believe more talks such as this one need to be done and in more locations because how can we protect our environment if no one knows how to do it. I greatly enjoyed this presentation and was very glad I attended it.

If you are interested in this topic but weren’t able to attend the presentation, here’s the website for the program Get the Dirt Out: http://www.getthedirtout.org/

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