Improper Erosion Control and Land Clearing

.Drainage Swale

I was called out to address a problem in drainage and erosion. Years ago, we did a drainage erosion project for a property you can’t see right now, but it sits behind this fence in a very nice neighborhood. It was to address water that was coming from this adjacent trailer park area.  I want to go through a problem that we recently had. Last night, there were some horrendous rain storms that came through this area, and as a result, they flooded over a large drainage swale that we had installed using rip-rap rock.  We had excavated out of very nice swale going down the hillside with the intent of capturing this water.  That drainage system has been in place for probably close to 2years now and it's worked with good results and until now.

Heavy Rains

Recently, we had this heavy rain and it crested over the drainage system. I came back here to this trailer park behind the property to identify the cause of this problem, and here's what I found. There have been some major land clearing activities that have taken place. This used to be homes where people lived and now they aren't. Now the whole place is empty and it looks like it's been that way for quite some time. I guess roughly 6months to a year at this point. So, right back here is where our problem is.  I want to show you some of the evidence of this problem. The sediment is being deposited which is an indication of where the water flow is on this property. So there's probably very heavy water flows coming down this slope toward us.  You can see where the two higher track marks are of the machines, and where all these trees have been cleared.

Vegetation Removed

So we're in a place where you have vegetation and you have trees and you have root systems. There's a certain amount of absorption of surface water and there's a certain amount of percolation back into the ground.  But then you go in with a machine you clear all of this.  Georgia red clay and you create a pretty dense surface which is going to now take this area and make it shed or distribute this water. Almost as if it was somewhat impervious because the water can't get in the ground. The clear red clay is not going to hold much water. So, where these tire tracks are, you can see that there's a large puddle. There's a substantial amount of water coming from this upper area and traveling across the yard.  You can even see the evidence of where tractors have gone in and out here, basically creating a river that is pointed right at this neighboring property behind us. All this water is directed back here and it's just completely overwhelming the drainage system. So, here are a few things to check into and be concerned with.  In any type of clearing activity, there needs to be a land disturbance permit. When you're disturbing, I believe it's over 5000 square feet. So they disturb all this way and so the first thing I'm looking for is a permit box. Where is the permit box showing that this company or this group or whoever did the land clearing had permission to do the land clearing?

Sediment Control

If they did get a permit there would definitely be some erosion in sediment controls that would have to be put in place. There should be silt fencing to prevent silt from running off and I don't see any silt fencing. It's like they just came in and did what they wanted to do without permission.  No county authority to do this, and didn't put up silt fencing. They created this horrendous problem for the homeowner in the neighboring subdivision. So, this is something that's going to have to be taken up with at the county level. There are some calls that need to be made so we can provide a solution and fix it for the homeowner. This property needs to have the proper type of silt and sediment and erosion control.  This grade needs to change in a way that does not allow water to flow into the other homeowner's backyard. So, I hope that information is helpful. If you're doing any type of land disturbance activities, generally, it's approximately 5000square feet that vary from municipality to municipality. Greater than 5000 square feet, you have to have silt sediment and erosion control. We're going to definitely take care of our client on the other side and make sure they're fixed up.  But we have to work with the county to get some more details and hold the people that did this work accountable.


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