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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Surface Water Quality

Flow-Through Rates and Evaluation of Solids Separation of Compost Filter Socks versus Silt Fence in Sediment Control Applications


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 36 No. 3, p. 742-752
    Received: Sept 7, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): brittf@filtrexx.com
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  1. Harold M. Keenera,
  2. Britt Faucette *b and
  3. Michael H. Klingmana
  1. a Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering, The Ohio State Univ./Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Wooster, OH 44691
    b Filtrexx International, 1352 North Ave, NE Suite 10, Atlanta, GA 30307


Soil loss rates from construction sites can be 1000 times the average of natural soil erosion rates and 20 times that from agricultural lands. Silt fence (SF) is the current industry standard used to control sediment originating from construction activities. Silt fences are designed to act as miniature detention ponds. Research has indicated that SF sediment filtering efficiency is related to its ability to detain and pond water, not necessarily the filtration ability of the fabric. Design capacity and spacing is based on flow-through rate and design height. In addition, increased detention of runoff and pressure from ponding may increase the likelihood of overtopping or failure of SF in field application. Testing was conducted on compost silt socks (SS) and SF to determine sediment filtering efficiency, flow-through rate, ponding depth, overtopping point, design height, and design capacity. Results indicate flow-through rate changes with time, as does ponding depth, due to the accumulation of solids on/in the sediment filters. Changes in depth with time were a linear function of flow rate after 10 min of flow, up to the time the sediment filter is overtopped. Predicting the capacity of SF and SS to handle runoff without the filter being overtopped requires consideration of both runoff rate and length of runoff time. Data show SS half the heights of SF were less likely to overtop than SF when sediment-laden runoff water flow rates are less than 1.03 L−1 s−1 m−1 (5 gpm/ft, gal per minute per lineal foot). Ponded depth behind a 61.0-cm (24 in) SF increased more rapidly than behind a 30.5-cm diam. (12 in) SS, and at the end of the thirty minutes, the depth behind the SF was 75% greater than that behind the SS. Removal of solids by the SF and the SS were not shown to be statistically different. Results were used to create a Microsoft Excel-based interactive design tool to assist engineers and erosion and sediment control planners on how to specify compost SS relative to SF in perimeter sediment control applications.

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