Construction disturbs soil and creates dust and debris. Where development sites are not properly managed, building and construction activities have the potential to negatively impact the environment.
The transportation of sediment and other building materials (such as sand, soil, gravel slurries, and concrete) off a development site can cause pollution of Council’s stormwater drainage infrastructure and more importantly, the pollution of natural waterways.
Run-off from building sites can travel down the road reserves or across land and drain to creeks and dams which eventually end up in our waterways.
Escaping sediment can affect our environment and waterways by:
- Destroying aquatic habitats and smothering native plants and animals that live in our waterways.
- Directly polluting creeks, rivers by filling them with dirt, soil, sand and mud. This leads to poorer water quality affecting swimming or leisure activities in and around our waterways.
- Blocking stormwater drains leading to flooding and overflows.
- Eroding creek and riverbanks.
You may think that a single block of land may seem insignificant. However, if you consider all the building sites within the Hilltops Council Area erosion has a significant impact on water quality.
It is important that all construction sites are made to establish excellent environmental management practices on their sites. One way to ensure this is to establish and maintain adequate Erosion and Sedimentation Controls.
In Hilltops Council Local Government Area all construction sites are required to implement and undertake works in accordance with the ‘Managing Urban Stormwater – Soils and Construction’ (‘The Blue Book – 4th Edition) – you can visit the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to access this document and more.
Erosion and Sedimentation Controls
Erosion and Sedimentation 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 damage to our waterways, habitats and aquatic ecosystems.
It is a condition of a Development Consent to implement controls and maintain them until the site has been landscaped and/or re-vegetated. Builders and owners should be aware of their responsibility in ensuring compliance and understand the consequences if pollutants travel off the site.
What can you do?
Plan: Establish control measures before any work is undertaken. These may include sediment fences, sandbags/’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.
- Preservation – Keep as much grassed area as possible, minimizing land disturbance.
- Be aware, 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.
- Routinely sweep footpaths, driveways and street gutters of debris and sediment to prevent it from entering the stormwater drain.
- Keep soil and sediment stockpiles at least two meters away from risk areas such as street gutters and stormwater drains.
- 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.
- Excess materials and scum from tools should not be washed down the stormwater drain.
- Revegetate and/or landscape the area.
- Make yourself aware of the Law.
A clean site is a safe site. Keeping the site clean ensures the community, your employees and contractors are safe.
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 $4000 and corporations for $8000. Clean-Up and Prevention Notices may also be issued by Council Officers for any such breach and include an Administration Fee of $577.00 (July 2021 to July 2022) payable to Council.
For any further advice concerning Erosion and Sediment controls contact Council on 1300 445 586.