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Prior to the rainy season, most homeowners and business owners have inspected their properties and conducted maintenance activities to clean out their drainage systems to ensure they are free of sediment and debris.

During the rainy season, it’s important to continually inspect your property looking for signs of soil erosion that can affect your property. Although soil particles can be transported by wind or water, soil erosion caused by water can impact your property in many ways such as through the loss of vegetation and trees, slope instability and/or weakening of your home foundation.

Soil erosion caused by rain can also impact agricultural lands by causing loss of soil structure and compaction that can lead to the loss of the soils ability to store water or nutrients needed for your crops.

How does this happen? Soil erosion occurs when a raindrop hits bare earth and displaces soil particles. During an extended or heavy rain event, if enough soil particles are displaced, you can lose the top soil layer in these areas causing a sediment flow on your property. When this happens, your property can be left with drainage lines (rills and gulley’s) through this high rate of stormwater runoff and blockages in your curbs, gutters and storm drains which could lead to overflow or back-up that could result in flooding to you and your neighbor at home or your place of business.

Whether soil erosion happens during an extended or heavy rain event or gradually over time, it’s important to regularly inspect your property and take action to stabilize areas of bare earth to protect it from erosion. When you find an area of bare earth, you can stabilize the soil by placing mulch, ground cover (grass and trees, etc.) or matting over the area.

If the area requiring stabilization is large, you may consider hydroseeding the bare earth or spraying a soil binder over the area which will act like glue or cement to hold the soil particles together.

If you need to stabilize a slope, many people will first consider terracing the slope to stop the flow of water or to install a retaining wall to keep the soil where it belongs. If you have a slope property that requires stabilization, you should first determine the percent grade of the slope. The percent grade of slope will help you determine the best approach to take and the materials needed to stabilize the slope.

When you have a moderate slope with less than 33 percent grades, you can stabilize the slope and control runoff using plants and covering the bare earth with mulch. On the other hand, slopes between 33-50 percent grades will typically require the installation erosion control blankets, matting and/or jute netting on the bare earth to hold slopes and plants in place.

If you find that your slope is over 50 percent grades, it will require the installation structures such as retaining walls (wood or rock), interlocking concrete blocks and may even require riprap (loose rock) and terracing to stabilize the slope. Structures and the use of these special techniques such as these will require a permit, so please contact your City Planning Department prior to installation.

For more information, please visit your City’s Stormwater Management Program for more details or contact:

City of Buellton: www.CityofBuellton.com Public Works Department at (805)688 -5177 or swmp@cityofbuellton.com

City of Solvang: www.CityofSolvang.com Public Works Department at (805)688-5575 or stormwater@cityofsolvang.com

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Mary Zepeda works for MNS Engineers, Inc. as the Stormwater Program Coordinator for the Cities of Buellton and Solvang

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