Controlling Erosion with Dr. Mike Perez
WE SAT DOWN WITH AU’S DR. MIKE PEREZ, AN ASSISTANT PROFESSOR IN THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL AND CIVIL ENGINEERING.
by Bethanie Harzog
Dr. Michael Perez is an assistant professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, located in the College of Engineering. Along with teaching, Perez also helps direct and researches at the Auburn University Erosion and Sediment Control Testing Facility located in Auburn, Ala.
Perez and his students test different erosion control technologies and products typically used on a construction site to minimize the amount of erosion and sediment going into the waterways.
The team will conduct these tests using their rainfall simulator, which can simulate various weather events that could happen during construction. The team uses erosion control products like erosion control blankets or hydra-mulches to test what will provide the most significant control against erosion. The different products’ performances are measured in terms of the amount of runoff and sediment loss and the quality of the runoff from the testing site. The rainfall simulator allows Perez’s team to test various products in different weather and soil type scenarios to identify the product that protects the soil the best.
A lot of the research being conducted by Perez’s team is funded by Alabama’s Department of Transportation (ALDOT). Their research has allowed ALDOT to improve the erosion control tools used on their projects, optimizing the cost and effort it takes in maintaining these projects.
“The work that we do is critical for Alabama. Alabama has a ton of rainfall every year, and we get these real big storms that have a huge impact on the amount of soil that gets washed from construction sites and other sites that are not protected [against erosion and sediment loss]. The work that we do looks at improving the controls that we currently use,” Perez said.
One particular erosion control tool that has proved promising is the erosion control blanket. Erosion control blankets are laid down on a slope to help with soil stabilization and prevent soil erosion, so the slopes do not degrade over time. The erosion control blankets protect the bare soil from being washed away by raindrops when it rains and allows vegetation to grow through it to help provide the final stabilization to keep the embankment from eroding over time.
Protecting against sediment loss and erosion is crucial to maintaining and improving our surface water quality. Also, it saves citizens and government money when erosion is reduced.
Erosion and sediment control testing facility