As a developer or construction company manager in Utah, you are likely at least somewhat familiar with SWPPPs — Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans. A SWPPP is usually required if a company will be disturbing an acre or more, although rules may vary in other states. Thus, depending on what type of work your company does, you may rarely encounter SWPPPs. For those building residential or commercial buildings from the ground up, however, or doing extensive remodeling that includes an addition, SWPPPs are often just part of the job. At Silver Leaf SWPPP, we help construction companies and developers file and manage their SWPPPs in Utah.

The purpose of a SWPPP is to prevent local waterways from being polluted or otherwise compromised. The methods of accomplishing this are not infinite (though it can seem that way sometimes), and many of them are related to erosion control. Below, the Silver Leaf SWPPP team discusses the top three erosion control solutions we recommend and help implement at Utah construction sites.

1. Erosion control blankets

Preventing erosion in hilly areas near construction sites is critical. Steep hills in particular present an increased risk of erosion. When a parcel of land is cleared for development, it is stripped of trees, bushes, shrubs, grass and all vegetation, leaving nothing but dirt. When it rains, the soil has nothing to hold it in place, and it washes away.

This is problematic if there are contaminants at the construction site, but it is worrisome even if there are not, because silt is considered a major pollutant in Utah waterways. Silt fills up streams, ponds and lakes, making the water cloudy. The cloudy water makes it hard for the sun to reach the plants, so the plants die. Without plants, the fish and birds have less to eat, and some of them die as well.

To prevent silt pollution, Silver Leaf SWPPP installs erosion control blankets on hillsides. These blankets are made of a biodegradable material, so they never need to be removed. They come in large rolls like sod, and we roll them out like a carpet to cover the hillside, then securely attach them. It’s critical to use an experienced contractor for this job, because if the erosion control blankets are not securely fixed, they could wash away in a storm, negating any good they would have otherwise done and perhaps provoking authorities to issue fines.

As your project comes to a conclusion, we can provide hydroseeding for your erosion control blankets. This involves us spraying a solution containing grass seed onto the blankets. We color the solution green, so the hillside looks immediately lush, and the grasses soon grow in, creating a secure landscape.

2. Erosion control wattles

Erosion control wattles do a job similar to erosion control blankets, but they accomplish it differently. Erosion control wattles look like long, giant stuffed socks, and come rolled up like a snake. Our team uncoils them and puts them into position at your construction site. Erosion control wattles are often affixed to hillsides in rows spaced a certain distance apart, resembling landscaping tiers, or placed at the bottom of hillsides or along the perimeter of a construction site to contain silt and other possible pollutants. You may also see them around storm drains or used to protect fragile trees or landscaping.

Erosion control wattles are slightly more heavy-duty than erosion control blankets and can be more cost-effective, since you need fewer of them. Erosion wattles must be properly secured to the ground as well, even at the perimeters, to prevent them from washing out of place.

Erosion wattles contain straw, so when your project is over, you can open up the wattles and spread the straw to help planted grass grow.

3. Silt Fences

Silt fences are another method used to catch sediment at the bottom of a hill during rain events. Most silt fences are made of heavy plastic affixed to stakes. It’s critical to understand how to install a silt fence correctly so that the water does not simply flow under the fence. At Silver Leaf SWPPP, we dig a trench several inches deep to set the plastic panels in. If the trench is not deep enough, the pooled water could pull the plastic panels out of the ground and break through.

You may see sandbags or bales of straw used alongside silt fences to help shore them up and assist with filtering the water. Both wattles and silt fences allow water to slowly penetrate the barrier while preventing silt from getting through.

Silt fences are harder to move than erosion wattles, are more work to install and must be taken down at the end of a project, but they are also stronger than erosion control wattles. However, silt fences are not an option when the ground is frozen, or when you need a barrier on a pave area.

Best Erosion Control Solutions

Implementing erosion control solutions can be intimidating to construction companies, and it’s easy to see why. They aren’t as simple to install as they look, and making a mistake could cost you dearly in fines and work stoppages. The government — both federal and state — takes environmental issues seriously, and authorities keep a close eye on water pollution in Utah. The drought conditions we are currently under here make the challenges even greater. More birds and fish are dying, and less water means smaller amounts of pollution do more harm. Utah construction companies rely on Silver Leaf SWPPP to handle all their erosion control requirements, as well as SWPPPs, SWPPP inspections and implementation of SWPPP BMPs. Contact Silver Leaf SWPPP today to learn more about how we can help you.

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