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Stories from the Field: Compost Filter Sock a Friend to Streams and Wetlands

Stories from the Field: Compost Filter Sock a Friend to Streams and Wetlands

You may have heard that sediment is the leading cause of water pollution in Pike County, but what is sediment? Sediment, in the natural environment, is the loose sand, clay, silt and other soil particles that settle at the bottom of a body of water. The Environmental Protection Agency lists sediment as the most common pollutant in rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs in the US. Sediment pollution reduces water quality, degrades aquatic habitats smothering aquatic life, and increases the frequency and intensity of flooding events.

Sediment enters our streams in a variety of ways. In some cases, stream bank erosion or natural processes allow sediment to flow into our streams. Sediment can also enter our waterways at sites of earth disturbance such as construction sites. These sites can be properly managed to decrease the amount of sediment entering a stream. The practices  used to minimize the rate at which sediment pollution occurs are called Best Management Practices (BMPs).

A common BMP used on many earth disturbance sites is compost filter sock (CFS). Compost filter socks consist of a biodegradable or photodegradable mesh tube filled with a coarse compost filter material. This material is designed to slow and hold water flow, filter runoff, and promote the settling of sediment through ponding. The flexibility of compost filter socks allows it to be utilized in difficult terrains such as steep and rocky slopes. Filter socks can be purchased in a variety of diameters. The proper diameter to use varies based on the slope of the disturbed area and how much area will be draining to the filter sock.

Compost filter socks treat polluted waters through physical, chemical, and biological means. The multiple mechanisms of filtration achieved through the use of compost filter socks not only decreases sediment pollution but also removes petroleum hydrocarbons, nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as harmful bacteria.

BMPs such as the compost filter sock play a significant role in reducing sediment pollution as a result of accelerated erosion from earth disturbance activities. Whether you are planning a 100-acre subdivision or a single family home, the compost filter sock could be used on your site to help keep sediment out of the surrounding streams, lakes, and wetlands.