Soil Erosion Control

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Sediment is the product of erosion and it creates multiple problems once it enters the storm system. Sediment negatively impacts water quality by degrading the habitat of aquatic organisms and fish, impeding recreational opportunities, decreasing property values, and promoting the growth of weeds and algae. Sediment accumulation in ditches, streams, and lakes reduces their capacity, thereby increasing the chance of frequent flooding.

Construction and other earth disturbing activities can contribute large quantities of sediment to streams. Accelerated erosion occurs whenever the soil surface is disturbed. Removing the vegetative cover, altering the natural topsoil, or changing the shape of the slope can increase the potential for erosion, increased runoff, and introduce more sediment to rivers and lakes.

The Law

As a result of state and federal mandates, the City of Birmingham must regulate construction sites in order to control the sediments due to site erosion. Whether or not an erosion and sediment control plan is required, all property owners are required to comply with the provisions outlined in the Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance of the City of Birmingham and any other related regulations. As a builder, contractor, owner or operator of a site, you are responsible for controlling erosion from your work site.

Who is Affected?

Everyone disturbing the ground. All land disturbing activities can soil erosion, which can be exacerbated by water or wind and the movement of sediment, including, but not limited to clearing, dredging, grading, excavating, transporting and filling of land, except as are otherwise exempted from regulation. Refer to the City of Birmingham Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance for exemptions.

Basic Mandatory Requirements

The following basic standards provide the framework for erosion and sedimentation control practices.

  • The owner or other responsible party should make an application to the City Engineer for permit. When required, the owner or other responsible party must submit an approved erosion control plan before a land-disturbing activity begins that would uncover the soil by removing or disturbing the vegetation.
  • Design and implement appropriate Best Management Practices such that the waters drained from the development are free of point and non-point sources of pollutants, including eroded soil and sediment, and do not cause water problems on adjacent properties to any greater extent than occurs in the absence of the development.
  • All natural drainage channels should be protected and preserved. Provisions should be taken to retain off-site natural drainage patterns.
  • Operation and maintenance plans should be developed and implemented for all structural controls implemented for during construction and post-construction.
  • All runoff from the site must be monitored for water quality as required by local, state and federal regulations