Sediment and Erosion Control
The Hills Shire Council is one of the fastest growing urban development Council areas. With this increased urban expansion the residential and business community has become aware of the potential environmental harm and cost to the natural environment that may occur on building and construction sites.
It is therefore important that all endeavours are made to establish excellent environmental management practices on all construction sites. One way to ensure these practices is to establish and maintain adequate Erosion and Sedimentation Controls at all times.
The Hills Shire Council is committed to protecting and enhancing our natural environment and ensuring that development occurs in a responsible and ecological manner. Together with your help as a site developer or new homeowner it can be ensured control methods are implemented to reduce erosion and sedimentation.
Sedimentation and Erosion Controls
Sedimentation and Erosion controls are necessary on all sites to control pollution run-off. Pollutants include but are not limited to such matter as soil, sediment, clay, mud, gravel and sand. All these pollutants contribute to environmental degradation and the devastation of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
In all Development Applications submitted to Council it is a condition of consent to implement these controls at all times and to maintain them until the site has been landscaped and/or re-vegetated. Builders and owners should be aware of their responsibility in ensuring this is complied with and the consequences if pollutants travel off the site and into any surrounding watercourse.
Everyone on site is responsible. Owner Builders and Builders are directly and ultimately responsible for preventing sediment leaving the site and entering the stormwater system.
Control measures must be maintained up until the site has been re-vegetated and/or landscaped. As a new homeowner you are responsible for these controls when you take 'ownership' of the site from your builder.
A suggested guide for information in implementing these controls is 'Managing Urban Stormwater - Soils and Construction' ('The Blue Book' - 4th Edition) - visit the Office of Environment & Heritage to access this document and more.
How is the Environment affected by Erosion and Sedimentation?
Swimming and Boating - Waterways are affected greatly by increased soil levels. Sandbanks and formation of excess mud affect recreational activities like swimming and boating.
Pollutants - Excessive aquatic life and algal blooms can develop due to increased levels of nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen in sediment.
Unwanted Pests - Ecosystems may change as native plant and animal species may disappear and undesirable varieties 'move' in.
Flooding - Disproportionate sediment levels in waterways can cause flooding that may result in damage to rural and urban areas. This can also have financial and social ramifications for the community.
What can you do?
- Think Ahead - Establish control measures before any work is undertaken. These may include sediment fences, sand bags/'sausages' in the street gutters and around stormwater drains, controlled access points for vehicle entry and exiting the site etc. It is important that these control measures are maintained until the area has been revegetated and/or landscaped.
- Neat and Tidy - Keep soil and sediment stockpiles at least two metres away from risk areas such as street gutters and stormwater drains.
- Money $ Down the Drain - Eliminate the possibility of topsoil, sand or gravel washing down into drains by either covering with plastic and/or temporary installing sediment fences around the stockpile.
- Not on the Car - Be aware of the fact that soil can travel off your property via the tyres of vehicles. Spread crushed rock/concrete over the area as a temporary access point for vehicles until a permanent sealed driveway can be established.
- Use a Broom - Routinely sweep footpaths, driveways and street gutters of debris and sediment to eliminate it from entering the stormwater drain.
- Preservation - Keep as much grassed area as possible, minimizing land disturbance.
- It's Difficult Swimming in Dirty Water - Excess materials and scum from tools should not be washed down the stormwater drain.
- Get a Green Thumb - Revegetate and/or landscape the area.
- Make yourself aware of the Law.
Legislation and fines
The Protection of the Environment Operations Act, 1997 and other legislation provide guidance to businesses individuals and industry sectors. Severe penalties and fines are in place if these laws and regulations are breached whether intended or by accident.
Council Officers are authorized to enforce the Protection of the Environment Operations Act, 1997 and any breaches can incur on-the-spot fines to the individual for $3000 and corporations for $6000. Clean-Up and Prevention Notices may also be issued by Council Officers for any such breach and include an Administration Fee of $550 payable to Council.
For any further advice concerning Sediment and Erosion controls contact Council's Contact Centre on +61 2 9843 0555 or complete an online enquiry form.