Welcome back to another edition of Blogging BMP’s. Well, so much for those drought conditions everyone was so concerned about heading into the middle of June. It is truly amazing how the faucet can truly be turned off and on in our current weather pattern. I have been around the county hitting every pocket of construction from Middlebury to Milford, Simonton Lake to Syracuse, and Baugo to Benton talking to contractors and farmers alike. I’ve had reports of anywhere from 6 inches all the way up to over 10 inches of rain that happened in 4 days time! Needless to say, jobsites and farmfields were flooded, roadways were overrun with rising creeks and ditches, and basements were filled with stormwater pushing the sump pumps of Elkhart County to the brink. This is not the first time this has happened, it just seems like enough time passes between these rain events that we forget how destructive they can be.
I’m not what one would consider a “deep” thinker, however, over the years I have developed an appreciation for old Chinese proverbs and this recent rain has brought a couple to mind that appy directly to our love hate relationship with rain and how we deal with it. The first is one that comes to mind relates to the contractors out there that tend to become a little complacent when things remain dry for a while. Before the rains, repair the cloth. This has everything to do with planning ahead. Some tips, whether you are an erosion control supervisor on a 75 acre jobsite or live on a quarter acre lot in town, are as follows.
- Ensure stormwater drains remain free of debris. If this drain is on a jobsite, ensure the proper inlet protection is in place to prevent sediment from entering our waterways.
- If you have exposed soil or stockpile soil on your project or property, make sure it is stabilized with vegetation and has some type of sediment barrier to prevent runoff. An example of this would be straw wattles, silt fence or even sand bags.
- Be mindful of when you fertilize or seed your grass or jobsite. If you spread it on, water will take it off. Not only do you lose the money you spent on the product, you also send that stuff into the waterways, which is not good.
- Check any measures that you have in place weekly to ensure that they are ready for any event that may stress them.
And now to the second proverb, and this one I am almost certain you have heard, An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It really applies to so much in life, but in this case let’s focus on some of the last line of defense BMP’s that prevent erosion on job sites.
- Construction entrances really do help! It is absolutely critical to use the correct 1 to 1.5-inch diameter washed INDOT No. 2 coarse aggregate to ensure the sediment that is on the tires of your equipment is properly scrubbed off. Small stones do not provide the vibration needed as vehicles exit the lot to remove sediment. This should be maintained daily as 20-30 loads of dirt leaving the site can flatten out a drive real quick. Did you know that the number 1 complaint the SWCD fields is sediment on the roadways? By a long shot!
- Silt Fence will slow down water and clean it in the process! Make sure your silt fence is properly entrenched to ensure unfiltered water does not travel beneath it. This should be inspected daily.
- Erosion control mats will hold seed and soil in place! Those areas of high flow that seem to take forever to get grass to grow may just need some protection. What do you think is cheaper, buying erosion control mats 1 time or buying grass seed and labor to plant the seed 3 or 4 times?
The last thing that I will mention is to the farmers out there… DON’T FARM NAKED! Farmer’s don’t have all of these fancy options for their fields, so what better way to keep your soil where you want it than planting cover crops, but that is for another column on another day. The bottom line is that heavy rain can move sediment and transform a field or jobsite in a hurry. Give an ounce of prevention and keep soil where it belongs. For more information on ways to not farm naked visit our website at https://www.elkcoswcd.org/ag/costshare/ and for a better understanding of the erosion control measures that were discussed in this article visit https://www.elkcoswcd.org/developers/compliance-process-for-elkhart-county/temporary-and-permanent-site-stabilization/ Until next time I will leave you with this. When it started to rain I noticed all of the cows lying down. After a brief moment I realized they were actually pretty smart. They just wanted to keep each udder dry.