Construction Site Erosion Control

Sediment erosion, paint, chemicals, debris and other pollutants discharge directly into storm drains during rainfall and wash into streams, rivers, and lakes. For every acre under construction, about a dump truck and a half of soil could wash into a nearby lake or stream, if the contractor does not use erosion and sediment controls. (Click here for the Manual for Erosion and Sediment Control in Georgia, 5th edition)

Some problems caused by pollution due to construction include:

  • Impacts to aquatic life and impairment of habitats.
  • Flooding and drainage problems due to sediment in streets, catch basins, sewers and ditches.
  • Impairment of downstream waters for recreation and water supply.
  • What can your business do to reduce stormwater pollution? Try some of the following practices to reduce pollution.

Employee Education

Train employees or hand out literature in English and Spanish. Teach employees to use a ground cloth, pail, drum, drip pan or other protective options during activities where spills can occur. Stencil storm drains or apply curb markers.

Keeping it Clean, Pollutants Drain to Stream
Housing and cleaning practices on a job site not only keep “after the fact” work at a minimal, but it prevents pollutants from entering the storm drain.

  • Wipe up spills with rags and other absorbent materials immediately. Do not hose down the area to a storm drain or receiving water or conveyance ditch to receiving water.
  • Sweep paved surfaces instead of hosing down.
  • Clean up leaks, spills, and drips immediately.
  • Avoid accidental spills by using drip pans and funnel when draining or pouring fluids.
  • Be ready for the unexpected by developing a spill kit with disposable cloths, kitty litter or saw dust (or cornmeal) for absorbing.
  • Clean paintbrushes and tools with water-based paints in sinks connected to sanitary sewers (if approved by local sewer authority) or in portable containers that can be dumped into a sanitary sewer drain.
  • Moving Equipment – Mobility of equipment and employees entering a job creates an atmosphere where soil is spread on roads and streets. Once dirt is on pavement, then it is more likely to drain into a drainage ditch or storm drain.
  • Use limited construction exits for all vehicles to limit mud and dirt tracked onto streets.
  • Designate a parking area for employees (preferably on grassy areas, to avoid toxins from entering the storm drain).
  • Maintain all vehicles and equipment by inspecting them for leaks.
  • Refrain from using diesel oils to lubricate equipment.
  • Perform equipment repairs away from site.
  • Recycling materials – Use recyclable materials (when possible). Use temporary or permanent drainage ditches to direct water flow offsite.


Plant temporary vegetation to prevent sediment erosion. Preserve existing grass and trees. Remove vegetation only when necessary.

Site Structures to Prevent Stormwater Pollution (also known as Structural Controls)

  • Dust, wash water, grit or other pollutants may escape the work area and enter catch basins.
  • The containment device(s) should be in place at the beginning of the workday for the most effective use.
  • Use silt fencing with the right specifications to control sediment. The right specifications include having the fence along the ground (not 2 inches or more above ground where sediment can travel).
  • Use check dams, ditches or berms around excavations.
  • Barricade storm drain openings during saw cutting and after breaking up paving Remove all wood chips and recycle them.
  • Use a storm drain cover, filter fabric, or similarly effective runoff control device.
  • Place hay bales or other erosion controls down slope to capture runoff carrying mortar or cement before it can reach the storm drain.
  • When painting or applying cement to a structure, place tarps around area to collect paint or cement.
  • Storage
  • Store materials that are normally used in repair and remodeling (Paints, paint thinners, rust removal, and other solvents).
  • Secure bags of cement after they are open. Keep wind-blown cement powder away from gutters, storm drains, rainfall, and runoff.
  • Soil piles located away from stream banks.
  • Store materials in a covered area.
  • Disposal of Materials
  • Dispose of waste materials properly.
  • Dispose of small amounts of excess dry concrete, grout, and mortar in the trash.
  • Never bury solid or hazardous waste material.
  • Collect contaminated solids & runoff, and then properly dispose of wastes before removing the containment devices at the end of the day.
  • Other tips
  • Schedule excavation and grading work during for dry weather times.
  • The Unsightly Pollutant- you may rent them, but remember to check portable toilets are in working order and inspect for leaks.
  • CONSTRUCTION FACT: Since its passage in 1975, the implementation of Georgia’s Erosion and Sedimentation Act has contributed greatly toward protecting streams by reducing sediment flows from construction sites.