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Erosion and sediment control
Erosion occurs when soil particles or sediment is removed from the surface of the land. Sediment is generated when water or wind runs over an unprotected soil surface. Building and development sites are a common source of sediment because they potentially involve removal of vegetation and disturbance of the soils.
What damage can sediment do?
Fine sediment can be transported a long distance before it settles and frequently finds its way to our wetlands and lakes, causing turbidity (cloudiness or brown colour). Turbidity limits light penetration and subsequent seagrass growth, as well as increased nutrient load which contributes to algal growth, ‘black ooze’ in the near-shore zone, amongst other problems.
Coarse sediment does not travel as far but causes problems by blocking stormwater pipes and channels, smothering vegetation and changing the flow of water. This can lead to scour in waterways.
Council is currently spending in excess of $40M to help protect and improve the Tuggerah Lakes estuary. Limiting the amount of sediment and associated nutrients reaching the Lakes is a major focus of the Tuggerah Lakes Estuary Management Plan.
Assistance from everyone dealing with areas of exposed soils and potential sedimentation and erosion sites is essential in protecting the estuary.
When should I use erosion and sediment controls?
Erosion and sediment controls should be used wherever activities disturb the soil or remove vegetation cover, which might lead to sediment leaving a site. Erosion and sediment controls are mandatory for all building works and are commonly included within the conditions of consent for the works.
What happens if I don’t use erosion and sediment controls?
It is an offence under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 to cause pollution. Discharge of sediment from a site due to lack of, inappropriate, ineffective, or poorly maintained sediment may be a pollution offence even if it does not enter a waterway. Council officers or staff from the EPA may issue fines for such offences. For serious offences, court action may be taken, and potentially large penalties imposed.
How do I find out what erosion and sediment controls I should use?
There are many good sources of information about Erosion and Sediment Control.
- Planning for Erosion and Sediment Control on Single Residential Allotments
- Office of Environment and Heritage - Stormwater publications page
Should I report instances of poor erosion and sediment control?
Poor site management affects us all. Instances of pollution resulting from poor erosion and sediment control can be reported through Customer Service on 1300 463 954. Your contact details will be recorded against the notification to prevent frivolous or vindictive reports. Council officers will investigate all reported complaints.