Sediment Pollution: Rapidly Washing through the Nation

What is sediment pollution?

Sediment pollution is sand, silt, and/or clay particles that are suspended in water which gives the water a dirty or murky appearance.

Why is sediment pollution a type of pollution?

Sediment pollution is a pollutant because pollution is defined as a matter that is released into the environment that causes undesirable impacts on the health and well-being of humans and other organisms. When sediment pollution is found within the environment, the sediment pollutant can impair and dramatically change aquatic ecosystems, resulting in many aquatic species to not being able to survive, which is a very undesirable impact on the well-being and health of these aquatic organisms.

What is the source of sediment pollution?

Sediment pollution’s source is from soil erosion or the decomposition of plant and/or animals. Sediment pollution can also come from many different human-involved activities such as mining projects, clear-cutting trees, housing development, poor cultivation practices, construction overall, etc, when these projects are not properly equipped and maintained with the correct materials to avoid from sediment pollution occurring and escaping these sites.

How is sediment pollution getting into our water supplies?

The sand, silt, and/or clay found in sediment pollution can be moved across land into various bodies of water through the movement of wind, water, and/or ice. For example, if there were an opening in an enclosed construction site, the sediment found in the soil on the site is washed out of the site and through the opening by wind, water, and/or ice, into a storm drain. This sediment pollution then eventually makes it’s way to a body of water, which is now contaminated with sediment pollution causing many undesirable effects to the surrounding ecosystem.

What is the impact of sediment pollution on the environment, our economy, and our health?

The impact of sediment pollution on the environment is that the result of this pollution, murky and/or dirty water, can badly damage and significantly change aquatic species and ecosystems, which can set off a chain of reactions. Such as a specific fish species cannot find its main food source because of the sediment in the water. This eventually causes that specific fish species to die off, which was the main food source of another species of fish, which then eventually dies off without it’s main food source, etc. The impact of sediment pollution on our economy is the fact that since this pollution causes so much damage, organizations attempt to clean the waters of the sediment pollution, which can be extremely expensive. In fact, sediment pollution causes up to $16 billion in environmental damage annually, an extreme cost for only one type of pollution. Also, sediment pollution causes there to be an increase in the cost of drinking water treatment, which could result in odor and taste problems. The impact of sediment pollution on our health is the nutrients that sediment carries suspended in the water can activate a blue-green algae which release toxins, making swimmers in the water sick. Also, in Lake Michigan for example, women who have eaten fish that have been contaminated with PCB chemicals from sediment pollution have given birth to children with smaller heads, slower movements, weaker reflexes, and lower birth weights.

How can we fix the problem or reduce the impact of sediment pollution?

You can fix the problem and reduce the impact of sediment pollution by using weed-free mulch when reseeding bare spots on your lawn, which makes sure that the soil does not wash away. Also, you could use a straw erosion control blanket if restarting or tilling a lawn, which also helps in making sure that the soil does not wash away. Also, you could notify local government officials when you see sediment entering streets or streams near a construction site. By doing this, you can get important and official people involved in helping put a stop to sediment pollution which could result in beneficial temporary results, or successful permanent results.

Are there any regulations (national or local) that regulate sediment pollution?

Sediment pollution is mentioned in the Clean Water Act under Stormwater Management. This mentions how uncontrolled stormwater discharges, which includes sediment pollution, pose serious and significant problems to the overall environment and human health. The Act requires various sites and facilities, such as construction sites, to have measures to ensure that this pollution does not enter into storm drains and eventually into different bodies of water.

What can you do, as the person hearing this story, to do to help or prevent from sediment pollution getting any worse?

What you can do to help prevent sediment pollution from getting any worse is by sweeping your driveways instead of washing them, which sediments found on your driveway eventually end up in different bodies of water. Not to mention, if you wash your car in your driveway, make sure to do so instead on a surface that could absorb the water like grass or gravel. Also, within your garden, you could put compost or weed-free mulch onto your soil to avoid the soil from washing away. Also, you could avoid mowing 10 to 25 feet near a river, creek, stream, or any other body of water. This will minimize erosion into that body of water and also naturally filter stormwater runoff that may contain sediment pollution.



"Contaminated Sediments." Beachapedia. Beachapedia, n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2017. <>.

"Sediment Pollution." (n.d.): n. pag. Sediment Pollution. MARC. Web. 13 Feb. 2017. <>.

"Water Enforcement." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 22 Dec. 2016. Web. 13 Feb. 2017. <>.


Created with images by NASA Goddard Photo and Video - "Haze over eastern China" • eutrophication&hypoxia - "Riverine discharges to coastal areas" • Thoth, God of Knowledge - "Red clay erosion - sediment plume in Lake Superior -" • MidCoast Water - "The Manning River in Taree NSW during a sediment pollution plume 6.1.10" • eutrophication&hypoxia - "Urban runoff"

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