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Sediment pollution could get your business into trouble

Whether you developed the land yourself or purchased a standing building, it was probably necessary to clear the land first. The removal of trees, vegetation and other natural land formations to make way for infrastructure and buildings removed a barrier to storm water.

As the water moves, it picks up sediments that could end up in Georgia's waterways and could contaminate the water eventually. If you fail to take steps to prevent this from happening, you could find your business in trouble with the Environmental Protection Agency as well as the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

What you need to know about sediment

Water isn't the only way that sediments can get into lakes, streams and rivers. Wind and ice may also carry them. The EPA considers sediments as the largest source of pollution for reservoirs, lakes, rivers and streams. Construction produces the vast majority of sediment pollution.

Even the installation of a swimming pool or adding onto a structure could cause this type of problem. The ways in which humans use the land accounts for an alarming 70 percent of the erosion that leads to sediment pollution, which causes environmental damage costing around $16 billion annually. The sediments causing this damage include the following:

  • Oils
  • Dirt
  • Pet waste
  • Grease
  • Pesticides
  • Soil
  • Fertilizers
  • Litter

These are only some of the more common sediments that end up in the state's waterways -- this is not an exhaustive list.

The damage it causes

Sediment pollution can cause a myriad of environmental issues. Full storm drains and catch basins increase the potential for flooding. Fish gills become clogged causing numerous health and reproductive issues. Your drinking water could have odd tastes and smells. The cost of treating drinking water rises with the more sediment that needs removal.

When the sediment clouds the water, animals have difficulty finding food, and it inhibits the growth of natural vegetation in the water. It can destroy the habitats of numerous species. Sediments could spawn the growth of toxin-releasing, blue-green algae. Even the flow and depth of the water could change with a rise in sediment pollution.

As you can see, the damage can be significant, which is why the EPA and Georgia EPD monitor it and require businesses, and perhaps even individuals, to take steps to reduce it. Before beginning any development, the reduction of sediment pollution bears consideration. In an existing development, it may be worthwhile to ascertain whether it complies with rules and regulations in this area in order to avoid coming under fire from either or both of these agencies.

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