How Does Construction Cause Soil Erosion? - A Comprehensive Guide

This article aims to provide a clear understanding of how construction activities can lead to soil erosion. By exploring the causes, effects, and prevention measures, readers will gain valuable insights into this environmental issue. Whether you are a concerned citizen, a student, or a construction professional, this guide will equip you with the necessary knowledge to address soil erosion effectively.

I. Causes of Soil Erosion due to Construction Activities:

  1. Removal of vegetation and topsoil:
  • Construction projects often involve clearing vegetation and stripping topsoil, leaving the bare ground exposed to erosion.
  1. Altered drainage patterns:
  • Construction alters the natural flow of water, resulting in increased runoff and potential erosion.
  1. Disturbed slopes and excavation:
  • Changes in land contours and excavation activities can destabilize slopes, leading to erosion.
  1. Inadequate sediment control measures:
  • Improper sediment control during construction, such as lacking erosion control barriers, can exacerbate erosion.

II. Effects of Soil Erosion Caused by Construction:

  1. Sedimentation in water bodies:
  • Eroded soil can deposit in nearby rivers, lakes, and streams, leading to sedimentation, which harms aquatic ecosystems

Soil erosion happens when construction equipment begins to kill vegetation. Vegetation provides root systems, which hold dirt in place and prevent erosion. When builders grade the site, dirt can be displaced by both wind and water erosion.

What is construction erosion?

Construction erosion is a term used to describe the impact of construction on the environment. Man-made structures such as roads, buildings, and bridges have led to a large amount of soil erosion in the U.S. and around the world.

What are the problems with construction erosion?

It is a gradual process and usually happens over time. However, with increased construction activities, erosion issues have surged significantly. Erosion can lead to road washouts, flood hazards, landslides, clogged drainage systems, and poor water quality.

What are main causes of soil erosion?

What Causes Erosion? Soil erosion occurs primarily when dirt is left exposed to strong winds, hard rains, and flowing water. In some cases, human activities, especially farming and land clearing, leave soil vulnerable to erosion.

Does construction accelerate erosion?

Processes and Principles of Erosion and Sedimentation Page 2 Page 3 2.1 2 When land is disturbed at a construction site, the erosion rate accelerates dramatically. Since ground cover on an undisturbed site protects the surface, removal of that cover increases the site's susceptibility to erosion.

How do you control sediment in construction?

Cover sand and soil stockpiles on site, use erosion control mats and construct raised exit pads made of crushed rock. Minimise the amount of contaminated water that leaves the site. Use barriers (for example, sediment fences or filter strips) to trap sediment before it can wash away.

What are generally placed along construction sites to control erosion?

Controlling Runoff and Erosion at Urban Construction Sites
  • Vegetative cover.
  • Mulch.
  • Soil amendments.
  • Silt fence barriers.
  • Straw bale barriers.
  • Temporary sediment trap.
  • Diversions.
  • Check dams.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should erosion and sediment controls be installed?

soon as the roof is installed. control devices must be kept in place until 70% of the site has been revegetated. The overall principle is to stop both erosion and sediment leaving your site.

Will exposure to rain hurt framing lumber?

The framing lumber and oriented strand board (OSB) on your project can handle the rain. The glues utilized in the creation of OSB are water-resistant. After all, these manufacturers understand that the majority of projects will face some form of inclement weather eventually.

Do construction workers work through rain?

When it rains, construction workers either continue working with appropriate safety measures in light rain or seek shelter and temporarily halt work during heavy rain or unsafe conditions caused by the rain. They may use rain gear and tarps to protect themselves and equipment.

How do you protect dirt from rain?

Use Bigger Mulch

If heavy rain keeps washing away your garden, you can protect the surface with bigger mulch. Water easily washes away small pieces of shredded mulch or bare soil. Bigger pieces of bark mulch have more stability and a greater ability to absorb water. They can protect the topsoil and plants below.

How do you keep dirt from eroding?

The best plant for erosion control is one that holds the soil in place. Many cover crops, such as rye and clover, create nets of roots that hold soil together and help reduce weeds. Ornamental ground cover, including ivy, creeping juniper and periwinkle, are also proven erosion control solutions.

How can we prevent soil erosion from rain?

You can reduce soil erosion by:

Maintaining a healthy, perennial plant cover. Mulching. Planting a cover crop – such as winter rye in vegetable gardens. Includes annual grasses, small grains, legumes and other types of vegetation planted to provide a temporary vegetative cover.

What is the dirt that repels water?

Hydrophobic soil

Hydrophobic soil is easily recognizable by its inability to absorb water, which often appears as though the water is beading off it. If you see that water is pooling or running off it, causing the soil underneath it to remain dry, you're dealing with hydrophobic soil. Fortunately, it isn't hard to fix hydrophobic soil.

What is sediment control in construction?

Temporary construction erosion and sediment control is the practice of preventing or reducing the movement of sediment from a site during construction through the implementation of man-made structures, land management techniques, or natural processes.

What control measures should be in place with regards to sediment controls?

Some strategies to consider include the following:
  • Silt Fences. These devices work to keep sediment from reaching nearby lakes and streams.
  • Sediment Traps. Construction crews can create a basin that captures runoff by excavating a small, strategically located section of earth.
  • Storm Drain Inlet Protection.

What is the Virginia erosion and sediment control law?

"Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Program" or "VESCP" means a program approved by the department that has been established by a VESCP authority for the effective control of soil erosion, sediment deposition, and nonagricultural runoff associated with a land-disturbing activity to prevent the unreasonable

What prevents erosion of soil during construction?

Some ways that you can control erosion on a construction site are through the use of barriers like earth walls, soil nails, riprap, turbidity barriers, and concrete blocks. Drainage is also very important to control erosion on a construction site.

How can we prevent erosion from runoff?

You can reduce soil erosion by:
  1. Maintaining a healthy, perennial plant cover.
  2. Mulching.
  3. Planting a cover crop – such as winter rye in vegetable gardens.
  4. Placing crushed stone, wood chips, and other similar materials in heavily used areas where vegetation is hard to establish and maintain.

What material prevents erosion from drainage?

For areas with light erosion problems, replanting with vegetation and covering with mulch are good solutions. For erosion along footpaths, covering with mulch or stone is the best option. For heavy erosion in areas of concentrated flow, the most effective solutions are check dams or terraces.

How would you prevent further erosion at this site?

How to Protect Eroded Land
  1. Replant Vegetation Suited to Site Conditions. Well-established vegetation can stabilize the soil in cases of light erosion.
  2. Footpaths with Exposed Soil: Cover with Mulch or Gravel.
  3. Terraces.
  4. Build Check Dams.

How does construction of roads cause erosion?

Soil Erosion Caused by Construction Activity. Soil erosion from construction sites is a major pattern of land degradation. Excavation and backfill disturbed the surface vegetation and generated waste soil during the construction period, resulting in serious soil erosion.

What causes roads to erode?

Common processes of road surface, cutbank, and ditch erosion: Mechanical pulverizing and wearing down of road surfaces by vehicular traffic. Erosion of unpaved road surfaces by rainsplash and runoff during periods of wet weather. Erosion of inboard ditches by runoff during wet weather.

How does construction affect runoff?

During a short period of time, construction sites can contribute more sediment to streams than can be deposited naturally during several decades. The resulting siltation, and the contribution of other pollutants from construction sites, can cause physical, chemical, and biological harm to our nation's waters.

How can we prevent road erosion?

For areas with light erosion problems, replanting with vegetation and covering with mulch are good solutions. For erosion along footpaths, covering with mulch or stone is the best option. For heavy erosion in areas of concentrated flow, the most effective solutions are check dams or terraces.

Does pavement increase erosion?

Environmental Impact: Pavement can have significant ecological impacts, including increased runoff and soil erosion, loss of natural vegetation, and changes to local streams and rivers.

Do roads cause soil erosion?

Roads initiate soil erosion through drainage structures diverting water from their impervious surfaces as well as from roadcut embankments. Road surfaces (including unpaved roads) increase runoff generation (Ziegler and Giambelluca, 1997).

Why does highway construction present a special erosion problem?

Earth cut and fill slopes -- Severe erosion of earth slopes is usually caused by a concentration of storm water flowing from the roadway section or from the area at the top of cut slopes down unprotected embankments or other slopes. Preventing concentration of water in these critical areas is essential.

What is the main cause of soil erosion in?

What Causes Erosion? Soil erosion occurs primarily when dirt is left exposed to strong winds, hard rains, and flowing water. In some cases, human activities, especially farming and land clearing, leave soil vulnerable to erosion.


How does erosion affect construction?
It leads to mudslides and safety hazards, and it can ruin the work that's been done. That's why finding efficient solutions for the prevention of soil erosion on construction sites is a must. Without the proper precautions in place, soil can quickly wash away, creating irreparable environmental and economic damages.

How do roads affect soil?

Road construction and traffic drainage will cause varying degrees of soil erosion, topsoil stripping, and other changes. Many studies have shown that soil erosion can change physical and chemical properties such as soil density, soil moisture, and pH, leading to soil nutrient loss [28,29].

How does construction affect rivers?

Construction projects can have adverse impacts on water bodies, including pollution, habitat destruction, and erosion. Implementing best practices, such as erosion and sediment control, proper chemical handling, and protecting riparian zones, is crucial for minimizing these impacts.

How can construction sites prevent pollution?
Air Pollution
  1. Never burn waste materials.
  2. Adopt hybrid technology in place of diggers and excavators with diesel engines.
  3. Use low sulphur diesel to power equipment and vehicles.
  4. Improve your existing equipment by using particulate filters and catalyst converters.
How do you reduce river pollution?
Ways to Prevent Water Pollution
  1. Pick up litter and throw it away in a garbage can.
  2. Blow or sweep fertilizer back onto the grass if it gets onto paved areas.
  3. Mulch or compost grass or yard waste.
  4. Wash your car or outdoor equipment where it can flow to a gravel or grassy area instead of a street.
How can construction sites reduce erosion?
Soil stabilization – Soil in the project's path or newly exposed to wind and sun is particularly high risk for erosion. We use a combination of soil blankets, mulch and the replanting of vegetation and trees to stabilize the soil during the project and beyond.

How can construction pollute water?

During construction, activities such as grading and demolition create pollutants that can leave the site and harm our waterways. Sediment is one of the main pollutants of concern. When it rains, stormwater washes over the loose soil on a construction site, along with various materials and products being stored outside.

How do you compact a pond?

Add water to the soil for lining to raise the moisture content above optimum moisture. Place each lift of loose soil at the proper moisture content in a 9-inch thickness, and compact each lift with a sheepsfoot roller. This will result in a compacted lift that is 6-inches thick.

How do you compact a building site?
Rolling is the fastest and most efficient compaction method for large fill areas. In small areas where large equipment can't reach, hand-held compactors can be used. Vibrating plate compactors are best for granular soils. For cohesive soils, rammers or impact type machines are recommended.

What is the purpose of compaction on site?

It provides the necessary flat base which provides the crucial support for buildings, construction foundations, pavements, roads and various other construction structures. The process of compaction gives the soil underneath these supports higher resistance and greater stability.

Does soil compaction remove water?

In addition, the compacted wheel tracks tend to shed water and have less total water than less-compacted soil between the tracks. This decreases bicarbonate solubility when soils are wet in the wheel tracks, also helping to decrease chlorosis.

How do you get a pond to hold water?
Sodium bentonite should be applied, mixed with the existing soil, and compacted. SoilFloc may be applied over the compacted bentonite/soil mixture as an added measure of sealing. Ponds with very poor soils may require a geomembrane liner in order to hold water.

What is topsoil used for in construction?

Topsoil contains the essential microorganisms, nutrients, organic matter, and physical characteristics necessary to grow and sustain permanent vegetation. Stripping, stockpiling, and reusing topsoil on construction projects is essential for proper reclamation of disturbed areas.

Where does the dirt go after excavation?

We either store topsoil on site, or remove it and store it elsewhere. Any spoil from digging, that will not be required, is removed and used to fill the voids made by the removal over many years of sand and gravel at local pits.

How is top soil removed in construction?
As the bulldozer moves forward, the blades break up the soil and remove any tree stumps and roots found in the ground. All tree roots and stumps are loaded into dump trucks and taken away. Next the topsoil is removed. Bulldozers push the topsoil from the site into piles called wind-rows.

Why do developers remove topsoil?

Topsoil is removed for practical reasons. All traces of vedgetation growth have to be removed in order to reach soil that will stand compaction and weight bearing . This is required under housing, roads and foot ways enabling the much harder sub soil be compacted , hardcored tarmacked etc .

Why is topsoil so valuable?

The topsoil layer is where nutrients are delivered to plants, water is absorbed, sunlight helps to aid the growing process, and wildlife and microorganisms interact with the plant in various ways. In short, it is where the "magic" happens.

Why do construction sites wet the dirt?

Pre-wetting the dirt makes it easier to move, helps the crews eliminate dust pollution and allows them to bring the soil's moisture content up to a level that enhances compaction. If you've ever built a sand castle, you know it's much easier to work with sand that's a little wet (but not too wet).

What is the purpose of water in construction?

Water holds a very prominent position during the process of construction. The water is majorly used in the preparation of mortar, mixing of cement concrete, curing of the final structure; and therefore, it creates a direct impact on the strength of the mortator and cement concrete.

How do you get water out of footings?
dig a hole deeper than the footings trenches, then dig a trench from that hole to the footings trench and the water will flow out of the footings trench and into the hole where it should soak away.. or at least it'll be out of the footings trench and somewhere you can get a bucket into..

Does construction use a lot of water?
The construction sector uses a lot of water, not least in the manufacture of essential materials like concrete and mortar. As the world confronts a looming climate crisis, what does the industry need to do to manage its water usage more effectively when delivering the homes and other buildings society needs?

How does construction cause soil erosion

Is it safe to live next to a construction site?

Dust at a construction site can take many different forms, and the materials released into the air can be made of rock, wood, chemicals, and even metal, creating a potentially lethal dust that can spread for a very long distance.

Why do construction sites use water?

The primary purpose of construction water is for on-site dust control and soil consolidation during construction and/or grading activities on lands within the District's boundary.

Why do demolitions spray with water?

Dust suppression is the application of liquid to effectively restrict the airborne dissemination of fine particles. The water captures airborne dust particles, causing them to fall to the ground rather than disperse into the air.

Why do they water the road before paving?

Water applicatin in road construction comes in several applications. First, it prevents dust from passing vehicles while works are on progress. Second it allows density to grade materials during base preparation thereby allowing initial settlement and proper compaction of base materials.

Why do they spray water on asphalt?

Some contractors practice spraying water onto the freshly paved asphalt to accelerate the cooling time, so the new sections can be quickly opened to traffic.

How does water affect an excavation site?

Water accumulation in an excavation can undermine the sides of the excavation and make it more difficult for workers to get out of the excavation.

What is the purpose of drainage in construction?

Drainage is a fundamental part of construction, essential in roads and the urban environment to remove surface and sub-surface water. This must be factored into any type planning by the project team of civil engineers, construction managers, architects, site managers and surveyors.

What is the role of a drainage worker?

Job Description

Drainage workers assemble and maintain drainage and dewatering systems. They lay tubes or drainpipes to dry out the ground of a certain structure in order to put a hold to imminent groundwater. This work is usually performed under pavements and in basements.

Why is drainage work important?

A well-designed drainage system is essential to remove excess water from your house and helps in the prevention of water-related damage to a home or building. The main objective of a drainage system is to collect and remove waste matter to maintain healthy conditions in and around a building.

What is the purpose of drainage improvement?

First, it is necessary for safeguarding the people's health. If there is no proper drainage system, water will stagnate and the stagnant water becomes breeding place for harmful insects. Second, it is necessary for proper discharge of wastewater, rain water and run-offs and for efficient flood control.

What are 3 benefits of drainage?

Drainage reduces soil and nutrient loss from runoff and can help avoid soil erosion. Drainage on hill slopes helps to reduce the risk of soil slippage. Drainage can be collected and saved for future use during periods of dry weather.

How does silt affect water?

Agricultural and industrial runoff can also clog ecosystems with silt and other sediment. In areas that use chemical fertilizers, runoff can make silt toxic. Toxic silt can poison rivers, lakes, and streams.

Why is silt used in construction?

Installing a silt fence, also known as a sediment fence, on construction sites is a standard practice used for controlling runoff and mitigating the effects construction site runoff has on the surrounding environment, including lakes, streams, and habitats.

How do you prevent silt build up?

There are several methods depending on where you are trying to apply sediment control. These can include stormwater best management practices such as storm drain filters, erosion control, sediment barriers, and turbidity curtains. To stop sediment pollution, we must first understand why it is a problem.

Why is silt important?

Silty soil is usually more fertile than other types of soil, meaning it is good for growing crops. Silt promotes water retention and air circulation. Too much clay can make soil too stiff for plants to thrive.

How do you fix a muddy construction site?


of either quicklime or hydrated lime, dries up wet soil quickly, so that it can be compacted readily, forming a working table that will resist further wetting as well--you can get back to work! hydrated lime are both highly effective in drying wet clay and silt soils.

How do you make mud less sticky?

Some operators apply oil or grease on the buckets and other attachments as the solution to this “sticky” issue. It is most of the time effective but then it may consume more time as re-application is needed when the oil or grease gets dry.

Can mud be used in building? Mud can be used either directly to construct walls or in the form of compressed mud blocks. The most popular mud or earth building techniques are rammed earth, daub, compressed earth blocks and cob [32].

What is a mud construction?

The mud – house construction uses only simple natural materials, which are any digging soil from the earth mixed with water and added up with paddy or hay or any dried fiber or even recycling garbage.

How do you fix soil after construction? How to fix compacted soils
  1. Amend your soil by adding organic matter, like compost. Decomposing organic matter helps build soil aggregates.
  2. Aerate the soil, which removes small plugs of soil to alleviate compaction and prevent thatch accumulation.
  3. Get planting!
  4. Not all weeds are bad!
How does construction affect plant growth?

Driving heavy equipment back and forth and piling up soil and building supplies around trees will cause compaction. This can be life-threatening to a tree because it deprives their roots of oxygen and decreases the permeability and holding capacity of water, all of which trees need to survive.

  • How does construction affect agriculture?
    • Construction plays a substantial part in the loss or conversion of agricultural land, both by the extension of human settlements and by the increase in the quarrying and mining used to provide raw construction materials.

  • Will trees grow in compacted soil?
    • Soil compaction can be a severe issue in agricultural soils causing slowed water infiltration, ponding, runoff, and soil erosion. It can negatively affect plant growth and root development, which can lead to poor water and nutrient uptake and decreased yields.

  • What damages tree roots?
    • Soil compaction is by far the most common way construction damage can harm and kill trees. Tree roots need crumbly, well-aerated soil to grow and to obtain oxygen, water and nutrients. Lacking good soil aeration, roots suffocate and tree health declines.

  • How does construction affect the soil?
    • Soil Erosion Caused by Construction Activity. Soil erosion from construction sites is a major pattern of land degradation. Excavation and backfill disturbed the surface vegetation and generated waste soil during the construction period, resulting in serious soil erosion.

  • How does farming cause erosion?
    • Agriculture. When agriculture fields replace natural vegetation, topsoil is exposed and can dry out. The diversity and quantity of microorganisms that help to keep the soil fertile can decrease, and nutrients may wash out. Soil can be blown away by the winds or washed away by rains.

  • What are the 4 main causes of erosion?
    • Four Causes of Soil Erosion
      • Water. Water is the most common cause of soil erosion.
      • Wind. Wind can also make soil erode by displacing it.
      • Ice. We don't get much ice here in Lawrenceville, GA, but for those that do, the concept is the same as water.
      • Gravity. Gravity is a primary culprit behind the three other causes.
  • How can farming erosion be prevented?
    • Chisel and other forms of mulch tillage leave more crop residue on the soil surface to protect the soil from erosion. No till planting reduces erosion by keeping more resi- due on the soil and less soil disturbance. Grasses, small grains, and legume cover crops protect soil from erosion during non-crop periods .

  • What happens to construction dirt?
    • When they cannot find a site to take their good dirt, or they have rocky and unusable dirt, subcontractors are forced to pay to dump it at a landfill or quarry.

  • How does soil affect construction?
    • Soils can make or break construction projects. Engineers and soil scientists measure soil strength to see how easily a soil changes shape or shifts, to see whether it will bear the weight of structures. Watch out for soil texture and type of clay.

  • What type of soil is used for construction?
    • Loam: An ideal soil type for home construction, loam consists of silt, sand and clay. Dark and dry, loam is crumbly and soft to the touch. Because it is evenly balanced, loam is able to hold water at a more balanced rate.

  • How bad is construction dust?
    • Dust can build up in the lungs and harm them gradually over time. The effects are often not immediately obvious. Unfortunately, by the time it is noticed the total damage done may already be serious and life changing. It may mean permanent disability and early death.

  • What is the process of sediment control?
    • Sediment “control” captures sediment after soil erosion has occurred and prevents it from leaving a site or reaching surface water. Compost filter socks and filter berms have been used widely as sediment control BMP, including concentrated water flow environments.

  • What are two strategies that limit the amount of sediment that leaves a new construction site?
    • Control surface runoff—Divert water from undisturbed areas to avoid disturbed areas. Break up long slopes with temporary diversions to reduce the velocity of runoff. Divert sediment-laden water to sediment impoundments.

  • What is sedimentation in construction?
    • Sedimentation is the process of allowing soil particles, minerals, sand, or clay, to deposit in low slope areas. When the residues from soil erosion settle in adjacent water bodies, they alter the water flow, reduce water depth, and affect its quality.

  • What is the best method to reduce erosion and sediment control measures?
    • Adding vegetation to bare soil areas is the most common and natural erosion control method practiced. Native vegetation species, such as wildflowers and grasses, are ideal for sediment control situations.

  • What are the 4 types of sedimentation process?
    • Type 1 – Dilutes, non-flocculent, free-settling (every particle settles independently.) Type 2 – Dilute, flocculent (particles can flocculate as they settle). Type 3 – Concentrated suspensions, zone settling, hindered settling (sludge thickening). Type 4 – Concentrated suspensions, compression (sludge thickening).

  • How does mining cause erosion?
    • Mining increases rates of both weathering and erosion. Because digging and blasting break rock into smaller pieces (mechanical weathering), waste rock has more surface area exposed to chemical weathering. For some mining wastes, this is only a small problem.

  • How does mining damage the environment?
    • Mine exploration, construction, operation, and maintenance may result in land-use change, and may have associated negative impacts on environments, including deforestation, erosion, contamination and alteration of soil profiles, contamination of local streams and wetlands, and an increase in noise level, dust and

  • How could mining increase the risk of erosion?
    • In strip mining, for example, the top layers of soil and vegetation are removed to reveal the desired ore. If an area where strip mining occurred has not been properly reclaimed after mining activities have ended (soil replaced and graded, vegetation replanted), erosion can occur.

  • How do mining affect the rate of erosion?
    • Mining activities disturbing large areas of land may increase erosion rate up to several hundred times greater than from undisturbed areas. The erosion process occurs in stripping overburden, excavation of rocks and minerals, dumping in stock file and waste dump, and mine reclamation.

  • How does mining affect soil?
    • After mining, the pH of mine soils significantly increases and the pH value was negatively correlated with soil nutrients and enzyme activities; and thus, tolerant grass species should be established in such an alkaline soil.

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