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Water: Polluted Runoff

Erosion & Sediment Control

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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 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.

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