Effectsof Soil, Erosion and Sediment in Land Development Process
Theimportance of the development of an area can never be understated asfar as enhancing the economy and wellbeing of the society isconcerned. The development process usually involves the covering ofsurfaces that were previously vegetated with impervious covers suchas buildings, roads and driveways after eliminating the vegetationand altering its topography (Pitt et al 32). More often than not,scholars are primarily concerned about the effects that thedevelopment processes have on the soil structures, sediments and theerosions of that particular area. Of course, it is well acknowledgedthat the modifications in the landscape may accentuate the problemsoil erosion, as well as water bodies sedimentation since soils wouldbe transported to rivers, lakes and streams in water runoff in thecourse of storms at an increased speed as a result of deficiency ofvegetative cover. Nevertheless, it is also important that oneconsiders the effects that soils, erosion and sedimentation processesin a particular area would affect the development processes of anarea. Erosion underlines exogenic processes actions which remove rockand soil from a particular location and transports it to a completelydifferent one where it would then be deposited. In comprehending theprocess of sedimentation, it would be imperative that one determineswhat sediments are. Sediments refer to naturally occurring materialswhich are broken down through erosion and weathering before beingsubsequently transported from one place to another by ice, water,wide or even by the gravitational forces acting on the particles. Inessence, sedimentation underlines the tendency of particles insuspension to settle beyond the fluid that was carrying them and restagainst a barrier. Sedimentation and natural soil erosion are crucialprocesses that are that account for the creation, as well asevolution of natural landforms and crucial for the maintenance of abalance between animal and plant life (707).
However,soil erosion has a negative effect on the development process.Indeed, it is noted that uncontrolled and excessive soil erosion hasthe capacity to damage or destroying any properties on its way orrather the adjacent properties including walkways, sidewalks, trees,lawns and other landscaped areas. Needless to say, this may result inthe shutting down or halting of projects, which could also meanincurring heavy fines and repairs (715).
Sedimentsalso have a considerably negative effect on development. Indeed,scholars have noted that once they are transported from a particularpoint to another (where the destination is in a water body) they tendto cause a rise in the water level. This rise in water levelincreases the probability that the adjacent properties would bedamaged due to increase in the flooding. This would apply to anaggrading stream. In instances where the stream in question isdegrading in nature, immense volumes of sediments would eventually bereleased downstream. This would destabilize the channel bank withmore bank failure becoming even more probable until the achievementof a stable repose angle. It is worth noting that the stream bankloss would have double effect on the owners of adjacent property.First, it would reduce the area or amount of land that is availablefor growth and development since the property will be literary washedaway by the flooding. Secondly, there would be an increase in theprobability or otential for flooding considering that the channelwill have now moved closer to the developed areas and structures(Elko et al 48).
Ofparticular note is the fact that sedimentation does not only takeplace in open channels. This is especially considering that a largenumber of land development projects had ponds and lakes as part ofthe management design for storm water in order to control thepost-development runoff. Of particular note is the fact that theappropriate functionality of these lakes and ponds would be dependenton the sufficiency of the storage volume in accommodating excessrunoff that emanates from the development (Field et al, 1317).However, this capability may be eliminated or compromised bysedimentation. Indeed, it is noteworthy that excessive loads ofsediment deposited in such artificial or temporary small ponds wouldlead to a reduction in their capacity. This would, undoubtedly,result in an increase in the maintenance costs that the propertyowners would incur in dredging the lakes and ponds so as to eliminatethe sediments.
Inaddition, it has well been acknowledged that the top soil is usuallymore compact and has special capabilities for holding buildings andensuring their stability. However, soil erosion would mean that thetop soil is eliminated or washed off the construction or developmentarea (United States Natural Resources Conservation Service 3). Itgoes without saying that the development company would incur highexpenses for hauling more replacement topsoil so as to increase finalstabilization. Further, in instances where the sediments from aparticular construction site or developed region washes offdownstream and gets to another person’s property, there would beimmense amounts of cleanup expenses incurred. Even worse is the factthat there exists the possibility that the regulatory agency maytemporarily close down the construction site, which would mean animmense loss of productivity (Fifield94). On the same note, there federal and state agencies may slapstiff penalties on the development company or owners in instanceswhere the wetlands and other areas that are environmentally sensitiveareas are destroyed, as such construction would have hadnon-permitted impacts. It goes without saying that such areas areextremely labor intensive and difficult to clean.
Ofcourse, there are numerous ways in which the possibility of soilerosion and sedimentation can be eliminated. First, it would beimperative that developers limit the area that is disturbed duringconstruction. Of particular importance is giving highly erodiblesoils and steep slopes a wide berth (Fifield62). On the same note, developers may need to use retaining walls soas to lower the development footprint, as well as keep the impacts tothe region at the minimum (Elko et al 77). Further, it may beimperative that environmentally sensitive areas and natural drainagefeatures are preserved, as this will preserve the natural vegetation,as well as other aspects that would filter the runoff water and lowerthe potential for erosion. On the same note, developers may establishand retain buffer zones for areas that are environmentally sensitiveso as to safeguard them from the negative effects of development.This would be complemented by the clustering of units in considerablysmaller areas of land, which would enable the implementation ofconsiderably more efficient sediment controls and perimeter erosion,retain the sensitive areas’ natural drainage system and lower theamount of impervious areas (HighSierra Resource Conservation and Development Project3).
Louisiana-SpecificEffects of Sedimentation, Soil Erosion on Development
Theeffects of sedimentation and soil erosion in Louisiana are not anydifferent from other parts of the country as far as the landdevelopment process is concerned. Indeed, there have been concernsthat soil erosion and sedimentation would challenge land developmentprocesses, especially considering that some enormous land swatheswould be subjected to flooding and sometimes carried away (Campbelland Jenkins 52). This would mean that the streams and rivers wouldencroach into the areas that have already been developed. However,there is a slight variation between the effects of these processes inthe area and other areas on land development processes. It is notedthat the coastal marshes foundation was created from the MississippiRiver Basin sediments, which had been transported and deposited bythe river. The Mississippi River collected enormous amounts if clay,silt and sand through draining more than 40 percent of the UnitedStates (Torres 633). For more than 7000 years, this river would floodand deposit the sediments thereby creating land in a process referredto as accretion (Belyaevet al 38). There is a positive element to this erosion, at least inLouisiana, especially considering the fact that the new land that hadbeen created was far much bigger than the land that had been lost viathe natural processes of sea-level rise, subsidence and erosion. Itis approximated that every millennium, the Mississippi would alterits course thereby establishing seven major deltas in eastern andcentral Louisiana. The prevailing coastal currents, on the otherhand, deposited more sediments, thereby forming the Western Louisiana(Pitt et al 64). This could only mean that the erosion andsedimentation process resulted in the formation of other lands thatcould support the process of land development (Benedet and Henriquez85). However, the devastating effects of erosion would continue afterthe river abandoned the old routes as there was a reduction in thesupply of fresh sediment to the areas, which meant that the old lobewould undergo erosion, subsidence and compaction. This lobe wouldthen retreat while the Gulf would continue inland.
Theincreased soil erosion and sedimentation in Louisiana has been seenas having a negative effect on the land development processes(MacDonaldet al, 1406).It is noteworthy that that the expansive soil erosion andsedimentation would increase the level of water in the sea, whichessentially means that there would be flooding on hundreds of squaremiles of the low-lying coastal areas (Terchunian and Merkert 60).Indeed, scholars have underlined the immense nature of losses thatwould be incurred especially on the low coastal areas, or even areasclose to the waterways. Soil erosion would mean a reduction in theamount of area available for development (MichiganBureauof Water Management2). Further, the foundation of houses primarily requires firm soilstructure, which would not be possible without the top soil or ininstances where the sediments have recently been deposited in theregion. Indeed, it is noted that recently deposited sediments areconsiderably lose and, therefore, unsuitable for a large proportionof development processes. On the same note, it is evident that soilerosion and sedimentation would have an impact on the cost ofconstruction in Louisiana. According to the 2013 Louisiana Laws,mining operations would be deemed to have commenced in good faith ifthey construct sedimentation ponds and dewatering facilities amongother things. This would mean an increase in the construction cost(Justia 8). Further, the environmental conservation act requires thatdevelopers take all the necessary action to ensure that they preventsoil erosion, and timber damage among other things that increasesedimentation in the water bodies (Justia 13c) Similarly, the 2006Louisiana laws requires that developers take the necessary measuresto minimize or avert the possibility of avoidable drainage from everydeveloped tract that Is not equalized by counter drainage (Justia1a).
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