A new construction project is welcome in most communities due to the positive impact it will have on the local economy. However, governmental authorities are casting critical glances upon irresponsible construction contractors, specifically ones that pollute the local environment, negatively affect other property, and damage the city's infrastructure. These actions all can occur when a contractor fails to practice proper soil management on the job site. The good news is that such abuses are preventable if a contractor acts responsibly. If you are involved in managing construction work, then you should have a clear understanding of how to prevent soil loss. Here are three ways you can keep the soil on-site:
Leave plant life untouched whenever possible
Soil is naturally protected from erosion by grass, trees and other plant life. These plants form a living barrier of woven roots and decaying organic matter, plus they trap moisture which keeps the soil bonded together. Whenever plants are removed from the soil, its natural protection is lost, and this results in erosion and soil drying. Dry soil is prone to blowing off-site when wind speeds pick up, and the exposed soil becomes a miry mess when it rains. Trucks and other equipment invariably will accumulate mud on wheels and chassis, and this ends up on streets and roads.
This is why it is necessary to leave plant life alone as much as possible on a construction site. In some circumstances, the destruction of trees and plants is warranted in order to complete parts of the project. However, in many instances, expediency and lack of proper planning results in needless removal of plants that protect the soil. Before you cut through grass, trees, or plants, take time to plan; approach it from a point-of-view that every square foot of undisturbed ground is important. This will reflect establishing a strategic vision for your project, rather than making an ill-advised, short-term move.
Install stabilized vehicle entrances and exits
A best practice for preventing soil loss from your site is the installation of stabilized entrances and exits for vehicles. A stabilized entrance is built to capture dirt from an exiting vehicle and reroute it back into the site. Here are few things to keep in mind when installing stabilized entrances:
Use gravel as the soil capturing medium – Gravel is good to use for removing soil and mud from a vehicle's tires. Gravel also tends to lock together over time and form a strong base of support. You will need several inches of gravel laid over an appropriate substrate such as a durable foam pad.
Install wheel washers – Wheel washing racks are effective at removing dirt from tires; these devices spray water at tire-level when vehicles pass. If you use washing racks, be sure to set up an appropriate collection area for the muddy water, so it doesn't run off into a stream or storm sewer.
Prevent alternative entrance and exits – To make a stabilized entrance as effective as possible, you must control all incoming and outgoing traffic, so each vehicle passes through it. Otherwise, individuals who find faster or more direct routes to the road will be tempted to use them. Set-up barricade fencing along the edge of the project site, and also think about tasking security officers with enforcement.
Keep the stabilized entrances clean – Over time, stabilized entrances will accumulate soil and eventually clog the gravel. To counter this, you will need to periodically wash the gravel with a high-volume of water, or replace it with clean gravel.
Utilize street sweeping
Despite best efforts, not all soil can be removed from exiting vehicles, and there will still be wind-carried dust and rain runoff that carries soil from the site. Street sweepers, like from USA Services of Florida, fill the gap by providing a way to eliminate soil that finds its way to roads and streets. The use of street sweeping equipment is not an excuse for poor soil-control practices, but these machines are an important tool for contractors. In fact, some contractors are obligated by local ordinances to have street sweepers available to clear roads.
To achieve the most success with street sweepers, they should be operated frequently; this enables them to sweep up thinner layers of dirt before they compact. In addition, be sure that street sweeper operators are properly trained to operate the machines, as misuse can cause expensive damage to municipal or state roadways. After collecting soil from the road, dispose of it back on-site in an appropriate location.