Sediment carried by stormwater runoff from construction sites can cause severe water quality degradation in Georgia’s streams and rivers.

A watershed is an area of land that drains all of the water running on it to a water body. When soil is eroded and suspended in the water, the resulting muddy water eventually makes its way to the river or stream. Sediment-laden runoff is considered pollution under the Clean Water Act.

Erosion is the process by which the land surface is worn away, as sediment particles are detached by water, wind, ice or gravity. This can happen in undisturbed areas, but the rate is generally very small. Erosion is intensified by human activities such as farming and construction. Sedimentation is the process by which eroded sediment is transported and deposited by water wind, ice or gravity. Sediment that is deposited in rivers and streams is a concern.

Georgia’s population is growing and because if it, there is an unprecedented construction boom. Since 2010, Georgia’s population has grown by 500,000 people, and mostly in the 15 county metro-Atlanta area. Construction in metro-Atlanta is only expected to increase – in the next decade, population is estimated to grow by almost an additional 1 million people.

Sediment carried by stormwater runoff from construction sites in Georgia has been documented as the leading source of non-point source pollution to rivers throughout the state. This can cause severe water quality degradation in Georgia’s streams and rivers.

Impacts of Excessive Sediment

ON AQUATIC LIFE

  • Blocks sunlight from aquatic plants
  • Decreases visibility for fish, limiting their ability to find food

  • Prevents fish, mussels and other aquatic animals from getting enough oxygen

  • Impacts the ability of fish to reproduce

ON HUMANS AND INFRASTRUCTURE

  • Fills in drinking water reservoirs, increasing water treatment costs and decreasing availability 

  • Causes property damage and reduces property values

  • Clogs stormwater pipes and storage systems, resulting in increased flooding

  • Impacts recreational enjoyment