By Mike Hug
Excavating and grading soil can cause sediment and other pollutants to
flow into storm drains. The content in storm drains then flows directly
into streams and the ocean.
Erosion control blankets cover bare soil and freshly
graded surfaces. (Photo by Mike
Sediment is Dirty
Sediment is the most common pollutant washed from work sites into storm
drains. Once in the water supply it can clog fish gills, block sunlight
needed by marine life and increase the ocean’s water temperature. These
consequences harm sea life and disturb the food chain upon which both fish
and people depend.
Furthermore, poorly maintained vehicles or heavy construction equipment
can leak fuel and oil. Sediment may soak up these chemicals, as well as
other work-site pollutants such as pesticides, cleaning solvents, cement
wash and asphalt which increases the potential harm from sediment runoff.
SLAC personnel can employ simple measures to reduce the amount of
• During construction, cover all excavated material with plastic or
place it in a bin. If covering the piles is impractical, other protective
measures can be used with the approval of the ES&H Construction Inspector
• Protect the nearest catch basins with fiber rolls, berms or plastic
to keep material from entering the storm drain system.
• During the rainy season, cover freshly graded surfaces with erosion
control blankets to minimize erosion.
• Finally, clean the work site at the end of each day.
Be a Good Soil Steward
Once construction is complete, there are a few steps you can take to
further ensure construction activities do not damage the environment.
• Inspect all catch basins in the area of the site and clean if
• Remove construction debris from the entire site at the end of the
• Cover bare soil with seed and erosion control blankets.
• Revegetate the site with fast-growing annual and perennial grasses to
bind the soil and prevent erosion.
For information or questions, please contact
Mike Hug (Ext. 4042).