Like many American cities and counties, Dalton, Ga., and Whitfield County have become more aggressive in enforcing erosion control laws. They are "moving from voluntary compliance to inspection and enforcement," said Chris Adair, an erosion control management inspector for Whitfield County. This increasingly assertive approach has resulted in citations for a number of construction projects, most of which have been required to stop work until problems were resolved.
In March 2001, building sites at two recently opened Dalton schools were found in violation of state and national erosion and sediment control laws. Georgia officials cited the Whitfield County school system because silt-laden water was running off the construction sites and into nearby streams. The EPA lists sediment as the number one water pollutant in the United States, and it lists vegetation as the best method of controlling the erosion that leads to water pollution.
To correct their problems, school officials sought the assistance of Veco, a distributor of erosion control products. Veco recommended the use of Landlok®, a straw erosion control blanket designed to protect soil and seeds until vegetation is established. Chickamauga, Ga.-based SI Geosolutions manufactures Landlok. Both the manufacturer and the distributor provided a discount to the school system, as well as extensive advice on correcting existing and potential erosion problems.
"We discussed a number of solutions to the problems so that compliance could be met as cost-effectively as possible," said Vecos Daniel Hunt. "Some contractors think that following erosion laws is too expensive and time consuming to bother with, but it costs so much less if everything is done correctly in the first place."
Richard King, resource specialist with the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission, said ignoring soil erosion problems often proves very costly to developers in the form of lawsuits from owners of neighboring property and lost time fixing problems caused by erosion. Mr. King was one of the officials who evaluated the Dalton Middle School and Park Creek Elementary School construction sites last spring.
"The implementation of phases one and two of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System regulations by the EPA has really changed erosion control across the United States," said Mark Criswell, National Accounts Manager for SI Geosolutions. "By 2003, construction sites that disturb as little as one acre of land will have to establish best management practices for erosion and sediment control in order to be in compliance with the law. Regulations went into effect last year for sites five acres and larger, so weve already had hundreds of contractors and specifiers approaching us for help."
Criswell said that SI Geosolutions has sponsored scores of erosion control seminars across the country to help engineering and construction professionals learn about the intricacies of the regulations. "While we certainly hope customers choose SI erosion control products, its definitely not a big sales pitch. We bring in industry experts from outside our company who teach attendees about the best methods for protecting the environment and meeting the standards of the law."