Water: Polluted Runoff
Erosion & Sediment Control
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Explore Model Ordinances
By most accounts, the most environmentally dangerous period of development is the initial construction phase when land is cleared of vegetation and graded to create a proper surface for construction. The removal of natural vegetation and topsoil makes the exposed area particularly susceptible to erosion, causing transformation of existing drainage areas and disturbance of sensitive areas.
The model ordinance in this section borrows language from the erosion and sediment control ordinance for Westchester County, New York, and also incorporates some additional features that might help prevent erosion and sedimentation and protect natural resources more fully. The model ordinance will need to be adapted to be broadly applied for several reasons. For example, some of the requirements might not be politically feasible or technically appropriate in all communities. In addition, the ordinance does not strongly correlate with the process by which building permits are granted because the process may vary between communities.
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- Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance from Minneapolis, MN (PDF) (16 pp, 56K)
Provides a few technical guidelines and references an existing technical document. An example of a very strict ordinance in terms of the sites that are required to submit sediment and erosion control plans.
- Clearing and Grading Ordinance from Olympia, WA (PDF) (12 pp, 60K)
An example of regulating clearing and grading separately from erosion and sediment control.
- Erosion and Sediment Control Inspection Checklist from the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District, NE (PDF) (3 pp, 16K)A good example of a tool that can help contractors or government inspectors effectively maintain erosion and sediment control measures.
- Small site design guideline from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (PDF) (8 pp, 42K) An example of a small site guideline. For sites that are not regulated by the ordinance, guidance material like this might help to reduce erosion and sedimentation.
- Pre-Construction Meeting Notice from Montgomery County, MD (PDF) (3 pp, 19K)
An example notice for a public meeting. Materials like this notice help support the ordinance language and ensure that erosion and sediment control measures are properly installed.
Erosion and sediment control is widely accepted as a necessary practice, but there are certain ways to make even the most well-crafted ordinance more effective. First, communities need to have the staff and resources to enforce erosion and sediment control regulations; otherwise, the authority to inspect sites becomes useless. In addition, the technical manual referred to in the ordinance needs to provide useful guidance on selecting erosion and sediment control measures; in particular, it should not include measures that are ineffective. Third, education of contractors, engineers, and designers regarding the importance and effective use of erosion and sediment controls is essential to implementing effective erosion and sediment controls.