Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My grandma was a good inspector

Grandma gets the dirt on Findorff and Tri-North
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When Grandma visited, she'd wipe her finger across the mantle above the fireplace.  If there was any dust, your reputation as a housekeeper was finished.   Grandma believed there were signs--good indicators of how people behave.

 So it goes with contractors and erosion control.  During the last year of inspecting scores of construction sites, I've had a chance to test Grandma's method.  It holds up pretty well.

If a construction site looks sloppy and disordered, then there's a good chance the erosion control has been neglected.

Here are a few recent examples.  Neither site demonstrates horrific lapses--but that's partly because we haven't had any big storms this spring.  But all three sloppy sites illustrate Grandma's rule.

Tri-North site in Monona

What Grandma sees here is litter everywhere.  Some blew in from a nearby shopping center, but some came from the site. 

Once you look at the erosion control, you see:

Dirty tracks leaving the site,

Sediment fences down in many places, and

Sediment fences waiting to fail. (photo below)--either because they were poorly placed, or constructed with damaged stakes.

This spot along the sediment fence, located in a swale, will get most of the runoff.  It already has a hole (L), and the stake (R) is defective.

Findorff Construction in Monona, E. Broadway

At this site, both construction entrances had no gravel pads* (see 2 photos below).

Disorder.  Silt socks non-functional.  There is a creek just to the left that needs protecting.  The whole site is bordered by environmentally sensitive wetlands.

Findorff Construction in Madison, Science Drive

Problems at this site:

Main construction entrance inadequate (there was gravel, but it's beaten into mud).

Pavement outside construction entrance extremely dirty over a broad area.

No barrier to sediment between construction site and pavement.

Stormwater inlets downstream not protected.

Small area being excavated near street has no sediment fence or silt socks.  Drainage way is filling with sediment.


Erosion control is something hardly anyone pays attention too--certainly not the public.  So when you take a close look at how a contractor does erosion control, you are seeing how they behave--when they think no one is looking.

My grandmother used to say: "What people do when no one is watching--that's the true test of character."

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More photos from Findorff at Monona 4/9/11  here.
More photos f rom Findorff at Science Drive, Madison, 4/9/11 here and 4/19/11 here.
More photos from Tri-North, Monona, 4/9/11 here.

*  Much of the Findorff Monona site was paved--an old parking lot.  Perhaps, for that reason, the planners felt no entrance gravel pad was needed.  But there is so much mud about that the pavement isn't keeping mud from being tracked out.  Moreover, a gravel pad is supposed to work by jolting the tires, shaking the mud off.  So pavement won't work as well as a clean gravel pad.


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