Filtration Socks vs. Silt Fencing

Job site erosion control is an important aspect of construction projects that some contractors don’t give a second thought to.  For many, the way it’s always been done is the way they’ll always do it.  That way of thinking can cost you in the long run if you’re not careful.  Nowadays there are an increasing number of options available, and with groups like the EPA weighing in on new technologies, it’s time to take a closer look at what will work best for you.  To start, ask yourself a few simple questions:

How big is my job site?  Are there environmental restrictions I need to worry about?

What’s important to me?  Cost?  Easy-to-install and maintain?  Environmental impact?

Your answer to these questions will help inform your decision when it comes to choosing the right method.  Below, we’ve taken some time to shed more light on two methods, silt fencing and filtration socks.

What is silt fencing?  Silt fencing is a two dimensional barrier placed around the perimeter of a job site.  It’s placed in the ground and requires trenching.  It’s purpose is to keep construction waste and water runoff inside the job site and out of the surrounding area.

What are the benefits of silt fencing?  Silt fencing has been used over the years because of it’s durability and, quite honestly, because there hasn’t been a viable alternative.  Where silt fencing excels is its structural integrity.  It’s one of the strongest sediment barriers out there and it’s truly built to take a beating.

What are the drawbacks?  There are many.  For starters, it’s difficult to install and remove.  It’s time consuming to install by hand and the idea of buying a machine for installation doesn’t sit well with a lot of contractors.  Planting the fencing also requires trenching, which is difficult in frozen or uneven ground, and isn’t even an option on many environmentally sensitive areas, like gas and oil sites.  Removal of fences can be equally difficult and produce considerable job site waste, which must be hauled off and disposed of (adding to the bottom line).  Even the main benefit of silt fencing, its durability, can cause problems, too.  Silt fences are designed to keep water in, and if enough water comes in, you might show up ready to work one day only to find a swimming pool where your job site used to be.

What are filtration socks?  Filter socks are a relatively new technology that’s got a lot of people excited.  They’re long, heavy mesh or cotton tubes filled with compost or vegetation.  Once filled (check out our video of a sock being filled with a FINN bark blower) the socks are put into place and staked into the ground.  At that point they serve as filters for runoff water.

What are the benefits of filtration socks?  One of the main benefits of filtration socks is the ease of use.  Filtration socks are easy to install – all you need to do is fill the sock, lay it down and stake it to the ground.  Since socks can be filled with biodegradable material, removing socks is as easy as opening the sock and spreading the contents over the job site.  Some socks are biodegradable themselves, eliminating clean up all together.  Also, in contrast to fencing, filter socks allow water to pass through while removing contaminants, which prevents pooling or flooding.  Dryer ground means less downtime for many contractors.

What are the drawbacks?  It might sound like a sales pitch, but we’re not seeing a downside here.  The socks are easier to work with, better for the environment, and have less costs associated with installation and clean up.  What’s not to like about that?

That’s a simple crash-course on two methods that we’re seeing contractors use these days.  We here at Martin Implement have worked closely with FINN Corporation to position ourselves as leaders in the erosion control field and our sales staff has worked hard to keep up to date on available methods and equipment in order to help our customers out in the field.  If you have more questions or would like to get a hands on look at the filter sock or any FINN product, contact us at any of our three Chicagoland locations.

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