CLEMSON — The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) has turned to Clemson University water quality researchers to help ensure that it meets future federal requirements to limit the discharge of pollutants from construction sites.
Researchers in Clemson’s School of Agricultural, Forest and Environmental Sciences (SAFES) will measure the turbidity — or clarity — of stormwater runoff at active SCDOT construction sites and investigate the effectiveness of its stormwater runoff protocols.
They then will help design improved passive sediment-control solutions, including high-tech polymers, clarifying agents and coagulants, and engineer recommendations for creating outlets that withdraw surface water resulting from draining basins or impoundments during the construction process.
Suspended solids from construction site runoff have been shown to cause significant environmental impact, including transporting heavy metals, toxic substances and biological pollutants to nearby waters, leading to poor water quality and fish kills.
“This research will not only help the SCDOT meet or exceed future federal guidelines, but it will also result in improved overall water quality for South Carolinians,” said Charles Privette, associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering at Clemson.
As part of the research project, a Creative Inquiry team of undergraduate students will establish and operate an erosion-prevention and sediment-control facility on the Clemson campus. It will allow researchers to conduct controlled field experiments into the effectiveness of commonly used stormwater runoff and sediment-control practices on SCDOT construction projects and help improve those practices. The three-year study is funded by a $498,000 federal grant.