Erosion and Sediment Control
The County has established requirements for the control of erosion and sedimentation and has established procedures whereby these requirements shall be administered and enforced. The County has adopted the conservation standards contained in the Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook as well as additional standards for practices in Chesapeake Bay resource protection areas (RPA) and resource management areas (RMA).
Before engaging in any land disturbing activity, a person must submit an erosion and sediment control plan to the plan administrator for review, inspection and approval. The preparation, submission and approval of the required plan is the responsibility of the owner of the land.
Simply stated, an erosion and sediment control plan is a document which describes the potential for erosion and sedimentation on a construction project. The plan also explains and illustrates the measures which are to be taken to control these problems. The plan has a written portion known as the narrative and an illustrative portion knows as a plan.
Detailed information on the preparation and submission of an erosion and sediment control plan can be found in the Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook, Chapter 6: Preparing an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan.
For more information:
- Code of Virginia: Erosion and Sediment Control Law
- Virginia Administrative Code: Erosion and Sediment Control Regulations
- VA Dept. of Environmental Quality: Stormwater Management
- Prince George County Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance (PDF)
Erosion and Sediment Control on Construction Sites
Soil erosion is the process of detachment and transportation of soil materials by water, wind, ice and gravity. According to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality "geologic" erosion naturally produces about 30 per cent of the total sediment in the United States. "Accelerated" soil erosion from man's use of land accounts for the remaining 70 per cent.
Surface mining, forestry, agriculture and construction are the major land use activities that cause accelerated erosion. Although construction by volume does not cause most sediment pollution, it is the most evident and damaging because of the rate at which it occurs. Erosion associated with construction activities can be 200 times greater than that from cropland and 2,000 times greater than that naturally occurring in woodlands.
When natural landscape is converted to accommodate houses, subdivisions, shopping centers, and roads in rural areas, or development and redevelopment within cities and towns, these land use conversions are collectively referred to as urbanization. Water-generated accelerated erosion is unquestionably the most severe erosion in areas undergoing urbanization.
Erosion problems associated with construction activities include water pollution, flooding, stream channel damage, decreased groundwater storage, slope failures, damage to adjacent and/or downstream properties, and the time and costs associated with addressing these issues. Successful minimization of these impacts can be achieved by implementing erosion and sediment control (ESC) measures on construction sites to prevent soil movement/loss in the first place, enhance project aesthetics, reduce complaints, and most importantly, eliminate appreciable damage to off-site receiving channels, property and natural resources.
A land-disturbing activity is defined in Virginia as "any land change on private or public land that may result in soil erosion from water or wind and the movement of sediments into state waters or onto lands in the commonwealth, including, but not limited to, clearing, grading, excavating, transporting, and filling of land."
In Prince George County, land-disturbing activities equal to or exceeding 2,500 square feet in area require an approved erosion and sediment control plan.
However, the following 13 activities are specifically exempt from the definition and the erosion and sediment control plan requirements:
- Disturbed land areas of less than 2,500 square feet in size;
- Minor land-disturbing activities and individual home landscaping, repairs and maintenance work;
- Individual service connections;
- Installation, maintenance or repair of underground public utility lines when such activity is confined to an existing hard surfaced road, street or sidewalk;
- Septic tank lines or drainage fields unless included in an overall plan for land-disturbing activity relating to construction of the building to be served by the septic tank system;
- Surface or deep mining;
- Exploration or drilling for oil and gas including the well site, roads, feeder lines and off-site disposal areas;
- Tilling, planting or harvesting of agricultural, horticultural or forest crops, or livestock feedlot operations, including a specific list of engineering operations;
- Repair or rebuilding of the tracks, right-of-way, bridges, communication facilities and other related structures and facilities of a railroad company;
- Agricultural engineering operations including but not limited to the construction of terraces, terrace outlets, check dams, desilting basins, dikes, ponds not required to comply with the provisions of the Virginia Dam Safety Act, ditches, strip-cropping, lister furrowing, contour cultivating, contour furrowing, land drainage and land irrigation;
- Installation of fence, sign, telephone, electric or other kinds of posts or poles;
- Shore erosion control projects on tidal waters when the projects are approved by local wetlands boards, the Marine Resources Commission or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and
- Emergency work to protect life, limb or property, and emergency repairs.
If you are uncertain as to whether or not a specific activity is regulated, contact the Environmental Department at (804) 722-8659.
Activities that do not require an erosion and sediment control plan include:
- The tilling, planting or harvesting of agricultural, horticultural or forest crops or products or engineering operations such as the construction of terraces, terrace outlets, check dams, desilting basins, floodwater retarding structures, channel improvements, floodways, dikes, ponds, ditches, and the like;
- The utilization of strip cropping, lister furrowing, contour cultivating, and contour furrowing;
- Land drainage;
- Land irrigation;
- Seeding and planting of waste, sloping, abandoned, or eroded lands to water-conserving and erosion-preventing plants, trees and grasses;
- Forestation and reforestation;
- Rotation of crops;
- Soil stabilization with trees, grasses, legumes, and other thick-growing, soil-holding crops;
- Retardation of runoff by increasing absorption of rainfall; and
- Retirement from cultivation of steep, highly erosive areas and areas badly gullied or otherwise eroded.