Erosion & Sediment Control

Effects of Construction

Construction activity is responsible for approximately 90% of all sediment deposits in Virginia waterways. During construction vegetation is removed which results in exposed soils. This increase in exposed soils and decrease in established vegetation allows for sediment transport, increased runoff volume, and changes in surface water patterns adversely affecting the drainage system, slope stability and effects on existing vegetation. 

Proper management of construction activities, as required by local, state, and federal regulations, can minimize soil erosion and control sediment transport. An erosion control provision in a construction site acts as a first line of defense. If the soil is not allowed to erode, there will not be sediment to control. Despite all attempts to minimize, a construction project will most likely leave bare soil exposed to the environment. To prevent soil from leaving the site, measures such as diversion dikes, silt fences and sediment basins are provided.

Why ESC?

When sediment and associated/attached contaminants and nutrients (Phosphorus and Nitrogen) enter waterways a cascade of issues can occur:

  1. Sediment shades the bottom of the waterway and weakens or kills the aquatic vegetation, which oxygenate the water and serve as cover for young fish and other aquatic organisms.
  2. Nutrients stimulate algae to grow resulting in algal blooms. This algal growth shades native aquatic vegetation and decaying algae and native vegetation depletes oxygen in the water.
  3. Sediment and contaminants in the water plug gills of fish and other aquatic organisms this weakening and/or killing them.
  4. Sediment settles in waterways and smothers spawning beds, oyster reefs, crab habitat.
  5. Stocks of fish, oysters and crabs decline and reduce the income of commercial watermen and sports fishermen, thereby hurting the economy of the region.
  6. Shipping lanes, reservoirs, harbors ,marinas, and other waterways may require dredging, at a considerable cost.

Virginia Law & Regulations 

The Environmental Codes Division of the Department of the Building Department  is responsible for the implementation of the County's Erosion and Sediment Control Program. The County is required by the Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Law and Regulations to implement a local erosion and sediment control program to help protect the environment from the impacts of erosion and sedimentation from construction related activities. 

Spotsylvania County Requirements

The County requires a land disturbance permit for all land disturbing activities equal to or greater than 2,500 square feet. In Spotsylvania, erosion and sediment control plans are reviewed and approved by the Environmental Codes Division of the Building Department.  Once an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan (including early clearing and grading plans, site plans, infrastructure plans, and subdivision construction plans) is approved, the applicant will work with the Environmental Codes Division to post any required securities and to obtain a grading permit.