Well maybe not PARADISE, but the Jersey Shore. Recently, the bridge connecting Avalon, NJ and Sea Isle, NJ was closed indefinitely after a dive team discovered a crack in one pile and severe deterioration in another one part of a three-pile group supporting a single pier. This deems the pier unstable, and therefore it cannot support the loads it was designed for. Until the pile is repaired, patrons will have to retreat to the Garden State Parkway or Route 9 to navigate between the two islands. Fortunately, this failure was detected before the start of the summer season…and before anyone was injured.
This is just a reminder for our industry that upkeep and observation is critical. Maintenance of erosion controls and stormwater collection systems is just as important as the implementation of these practices. Why? Why should I really care what happens once my project is approved and built? While the damages caused by failing erosion controls or stormwater basins aren’t as tangibly severe as a collapsing bridge, they can have long-term detriments to our water supplies and environment. For example, after all these April showers, it is necessary for contractors to go out to construction sites and ensure that silt fence or filter socks are still in place and continuing to prevent sediment from exiting the area of construction. If that sediment passes through the barrier, it and all the chemicals and toxins it garners along the way could enter the water system and pollute our natural habitat – harming plant, animal, and human life! Not to mention that this growing deposit of sediment in the stream reduces the stream’s capacity and can lead to flooding.
Similarly, if an orifice is clogged, this could lead to system overflow, which could cause flooding downstream, or accelerated erosion. Even rain gardens could turn into ponds if the plants are not maintained with proper watering, weeding, and inspecting. Re-planting and the removal of sediment may be necessary to ensure that the gardens are collecting stormwater and thus preventing its flow through dirty roads and into nearby creeks and streams.
Our typical approach to civil engineering is Design, Build, Operate & Maintain (O&M). The above are just a few examples of why this third step of O&M should never be overlooked. While isolated incidents of failing systems may have minimal effect on our environment, repeated events will cause compounding damages. Regular maintenance habits should be developed now to prevent long term damages that will affect our future. Please contact D.L. Howell with any questions or concerns regarding stormwater management and erosion controls in your neighborhood.