About the research
Construction activities involve heavy earthmoving activities that typically disturb several acres of land. Due to the nature of construction activity, sediment is the predominant pollutant of concern during the clearing and grading stages, which typically exposes large un-vegetated and un-stabilized land areas to erosive elements. The lack of ground cover during construction results in land areas being susceptible to increased rates of soil erosion. As stormwater runoff flows over unprotected areas on construction sites, it can suspend and transport pollutants causing significant physical, chemical, and biological water quality impacts and impairments to nearby receiving waters. Furthermore, polluted surface waters can affect operations at water treatment plants, power stations, and other water-handling facilities.
In addition to environmental implications, sedimentation can cause vast economic problems. The loss of aquatic habitat and diminished water quality is often difficult to quantify, however some impacts (i.e., the cost of dredging and disposing of accumulated sediment) are easier to assess. Furthermore, the cost of eroded soil replacement comes at a high price. Eroded sediments may include the loss of soil nutrients necessary for plant growth. The creation of soil is a slow process, therefore better methods and practices for controlling erosion, sedimentation, and other pollutants from construction sites are needed to forestall these problems and meet the demands of increasing growth and development.
The objective of this research is to enhance the erosion and sediment control design guidance available to the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT), which includes compiling and cataloging erosion and sediment control practices, installing and evaluating selected practices on active Iowa DOT construction sites, and developing implementable improvements for Iowa DOT erosion and sediment control design guidance.