Skip to Content

What is sediment?

Sediment is the loose sand, clay, silt and other soil particles that settle at the bottom of a body of water. Sediment can come from soil erosion or from the decomposition of plants and animals. Wind, water and ice help carry these particles to rivers, lakes and streams.

Facts about Sediment 

  • The Environmental Protection Agency lists sediment as the most common pollutant in rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs.
  • While natural erosion produces nearly 30 percent of the total sediment in the United States, accelerated erosion from human use of land accounts for the remaining 70 percent.
  • The most concentrated sediment releases come from construction activities, including relatively minor home-building projects such as room additions and swimming pools.
  • Sediment pollution causes $16 billion in environmental damage annually.