Running water is one of the great natural forces in our world, with immense power when unchecked. This can lead to negative results in some cases, however, such as when erosion issues begin to take place in certain settings -- including stormwater systems. 

At Silver Leaf SWPPP, we're here to provide numerous stormwater management and related services, from SWPPP inspections through erosion control solutions that help prevent these issues from impacting any of your construction or other jobsites. How does erosion take place in stormwater systems, how does it conversely impact these systems in negative ways, and how will we help you both identify and prevent stormwater system erosion issues? Here's a basic primer in this two-part blog series.

Basics on Erosion

First and foremost, let's go over some basics on erosion for those new to this concept. Erosion refers to the breakdown of natural elements and features -- such as rock and soil -- due to the effects of water, wind, rain, glaciers, etc. on these items. As they break down, more runoff water flows through them and serves to carry even more of the materials away from their original site; this causes significant issues in many cases when erosion occurs on construction sites or similar areas.

Specifically, water-related erosion is on the rise in the US, including cases caused by man-made occurrences. Any major construction site or similar project should be aware of this and put necessary preventative measures in place. Otherwise, the project could quickly become overwhelmed by erosion and all the problems it causes.

Causes of Erosion in Stormwater Systems

The most common cause of erosion issues in stormwater runoff systems is a redirection of water somewhere within the system, typically of the unplanned variety. Stormwater may be redirected by improperly installed drainage systems, for example, or even something as simple as a pile of dirt that diverts water in an unintended direction. This can quickly create erosion issues at the new site of the diverted water.

In addition to redirection, runoff velocity is another major factor in erosion rates. The faster the water flows, the more material it can carry away with it. This is why areas with high levels of stormwater runoff (such as construction sites) are especially prone to erosion issues.

Erosion's Impact on Stormwater Systems

On the flip side of this equation, significant erosion within a stormwater system will cause problems for the system itself. The biggest potential issue is sedimentation, which is the buildup of sediment (gravel, sand, soil, etc.) on surfaces where it's not meant to be. This can quickly clog drainage systems and culverts, leading to even more water-related problems and exacerbating the erosion issue.

In addition, sedimentation can also impact aquatic life in streams and other waterways. The finer the sediment particles are, the more damage they can do as they're carried downstream. This can smother aquatic life, block sunlight from reaching plants and other organisms, and even affect water quality.

In part two of our series, we'll go over how to spot and prevent stormwater erosion from becoming an issue, often while utilizing the assistance of our quality SWPPP team. For more on this or any of our erosion control services, speak to the staff at Silver Leaf SWPPP today.

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