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Why is Soil Erosion on Building Sites an Issue?

Soil erosion on building sites can be a major source of sediment pollution in our waterways. Although a single block of land may seem a small part of the catchment, the cumulative effect of polluted runoff water from a number of building sites can have a dramatic impact on water quality.

Who is Responsible?

The owner and the builder are responsible for controlling soil erosion and preventing sediment from the building site from being washed into stormwater drains.


Under section 120 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 heavy fines, including on-the-spot fines ($750 for individuals and $1500 for corporations) may be imposed if a person allows soil, earth, mud, clay, concrete washings or similar material to be washed or placed in a position from where it is likely to be washed into stormwater drains.


Under no circumstances are any works to commence until an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan has been prepared and approved by the Principal Certifying Authority and the controls are in place on the site.

An Erosion and Sediment Control Plan is generally required where construction or excavation activity requires the disturbance of the soil surface and existing vegetation. Details including drawings and specifications must provide adequate measures for erosion and sediment control to ensure:

  • Compliance with any approved Soil and Water Management Plan
  • Removal or disturbance of vegetation and top soil is confined to within 3m of the approved building area (no trees to be removed without approval
  • All uncontaminated run-off is diverted around cleared or disturbed areas
  • Silt fences or other devices are installed to prevent sediment and other debris escaping from the cleared or disturbed areas into drainage systems or waterways
  • All erosion and sediment controls are fully maintained for the duration of demolition/ development works.
  • Controls are put into place to prevent tracking of sediment by vehicles onto adjoining roadways.
  • All disturbed areas are rendered erosion-resistant by turfing, mulching, paving or similar.
  • All water pumped or otherwise removed from excavations or basement areas is filtered to achieve suspended solids/non filterable residue levels complying with the Australian Water Quality guidelines for Fresh and Marine Waters.
  • Pumped or overland flows of water are discharged so as not to cause, permit or allow erosion before the commencement of work (and until issue of the occupation certificate).

Further Enquiries

Please direct any further enquiries to Council’s Environmental Services Department by contacting Council’s Customer Service Centre on (02) 9748 9999.