Erosion Continued

Speaking of food chain… Do you realize the top 2 feet of earth provides all our food, clothing, and shelter?  Depending on geographic location, soils vary in depth from a few inches to over 600 feet or more. It is this top 2 feet that are most fertile and has the capacity to sustain us. When the amount of eroded soil reaches the thickness of a dime on an acre of land, the displaced mass equals 5 tons. When lost, about 12% of productive fertility goes with this inch and always impacts waters of the U.S.   Many in society work daily to protect, keep in place, and increase the production capacity of the soil. As projected, by 2050, world population will require almost twice as much food as we now produce.

Opelika is required to protect our soil and water resources. We meet those regulations by employing a stormwater management program with 83 other Alabama cities. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) is the overseeing authority which administers this national environmental program for Opelika and Lee County. Each entity has an outline they are required to follow via daily construction site inspections and multiple daily activities.

Trapped sediment from subdivision construction

Good and bad bacteria from testing sites

This includes monthly creek and stream water quality sampling looking for harmful bacteria and other water parameters. Outside testing labs are also employed to track other results. Every 5 years each city is audited by ADEM for compliance to their standards.

The erosion process begins with exposed land surface or disturbed land. This is how the Grand Canyon began centuries ago. Scientists have realized it is easier to keep soils or trap them on site than to remove and reclaim them from a wetlands or streams.

Pre-construction stream runoff
Mid-construction stream runoff

Silt fences and temporary vegetative cover are the first simple line of defense.

Silt fencing with temp vegetation
Post construction BMP detention pond

After construction is complete, post-construction management elements and procedures are employed to ensure grounds maintenance continues to protect water quality in perpetuity. Some 94 practices can be used to assist all land developments, industrial sites, urban areas, and shopping centers. If you see something that can impact our streams, contact the Stormwater Division in the Opelika Engineering Department at 334-705-5454.