What is Earth Control Measures (ECMs)

The sight of brown, murky water flowing after a heavy downpour is a familiar scene in many urban areas. This discolouration is often caused by silt washed away from exposed earth surfaces, particularly construction sites. This sediment, rich in Total Suspended Solids (TSS), can have a detrimental impact on our waterways, harming aquatic life and disrupting natural ecosystems.

Earth Control Measures (ECMs) are a set of practices employed to prevent this very issue. By implementing proper ECMs, construction projects can minimize soil erosion and ensure cleaner water runoff. This article delves into the world of ECMs, exploring their purpose, various types, and best practices for implementation.

Why are Earth Control Measures Important?

ECMs play a crucial role in safeguarding our environment and ensuring sustainable construction practices. Here’s a breakdown of their key benefits:

  • Protecting Water Quality: Uncontrolled soil erosion can significantly increase the TSS levels in water bodies. ECMs act as a barrier, preventing loose soil particles from being washed away by rainwater. This helps maintain clean water for aquatic ecosystems and human consumption.

  • Preventing Flooding: Excessive soil erosion can lead to clogged drainage channels and waterways. ECMs help maintain clear drainage paths, allowing rainwater to flow freely and reducing the risk of flooding.

  • Soil Conservation: Erosion depletes the topsoil, which is the most fertile layer of land. ECMs help retain valuable topsoil, promoting healthy plant growth and preventing land degradation.

  • Maintaining Public Health: Sediment-laden water can harbor harmful bacteria and pollutants. By keeping waterways clean, ECMs contribute to a healthier environment for communities.

Types of Earth Control Measures

There’s a wide range of ECMs available, each suited to specific site conditions and project requirements. Here’s a look at some commonly used methods:

  • Sediment Fences: These temporary barriers made of geotextile fabric act as the first line of defense against soil erosion. They capture sediment-laden runoff, allowing clean water to pass through.

  • Silt Curtains: Similar to sediment fences, silt curtains are used for water bodies. These impermeable fabric barriers trap sediment before it can enter rivers, streams, or lakes.

  • Check Dams: These small, temporary dams constructed across slopes or channels help slow down water flow. This reduces the erosive force of water and allows sediment to settle before reaching waterways.

  • Swales and Berms: Swales are shallow, vegetated channels that direct water runoff. Berms are small earthen mounds constructed alongside swales to further control water flow and promote sedimentation.

  • Mulching and Seeding: Covering exposed soil with organic materials like mulch or planting fast-growing vegetation helps stabilize the soil surface and prevent erosion.

  • Storm Drain Inlet Protection: Filters and grates placed around storm drain inlets trap sediment before it enters the drainage system.

Choosing the Right ECM:

The selection of appropriate ECMs depends on various factors like site characteristics, soil type, expected rainfall patterns, and project scale. Consulting with a Qualified Erosion Control Professional (QECP) is highly recommended to create a comprehensive ECM plan that adheres to local regulations.

Implementing Effective Earth Control Measures

Here are some key considerations for successful ECM implementation:

  • Planning and Design: A well-designed ECM plan is crucial. This plan should identify potential erosion risks, specify the chosen ECMs, and outline their installation and maintenance protocols.

  • Installation: Proper installation of ECMs is essential for their effectiveness. Following manufacturer’s guidelines and adhering to best practices are crucial for optimal performance.

  • Inspection and Maintenance: Regular inspections are vital to ensure ECMs are functioning correctly. Damaged or clogged barriers must be repaired or replaced promptly to maintain their sediment-trapping capacity.

  • Training and Awareness: Educating site personnel about the importance of ECMs and their proper maintenance is crucial for long-term success.

Emerging Technologies in ECMs

The field of ECMs is constantly evolving. Here are some exciting advancements:

  • Sensor-based Monitoring: Real-time sensors can monitor water flow and sediment levels, allowing for proactive adjustments to ECMs.

  • Biodegradable Materials: The use of biodegradable materials in ECMs is gaining traction, reducing waste generation after project completion.

  • Digital Modeling: Advanced software can model potential erosion risks and help design more efficient and targeted ECM strategies.


Earth Control Measures are a vital component of responsible construction practices. By effectively implementing ECMs, we can safeguard our valuable water resources, promote soil conservation, and contribute to a healthier environment. As technology continues to advance, ECMs will become even more sophisticated, allowing construction projects to achieve optimal erosion control and environmental sustainability.


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