Erosion and Sediment

Erosion is an ongoing process.  It occurs naturally and continues to be a dominant force in shaping the earth landscape.  It becomes a problem when the physical wear of soil and surface rocks moves material into the Waters of the Commonwealth.  This process can be accelerated through the combined action of human activities and other natural processes to a rate greater than would occur from natural processes alone.   Eroded soil, called sediment is the number one pollutant in the United States.

Minimizing Accelerate Erosion FACT SHEET

Soil Erosion & Sediment for Construction FACT SHEET

All earth disturbance activities are required to implement erosion and sediment control Best Management Practices or BMPs.  Using these practices to control soil erosion is the key to slowing sediment pollution.  The Conservation District has guidance documents and manuals to assist in finding the BMPs that will minimize sediment runoff during construction and replicate natural runoff conditions after land development.

Following is a link to the Homeowners Guide to Stormwater BMP Maintenance.   It has some great examples of BMPs.

Erosion is a natural process, which occurs with each rain event. Human activities which remove protective vegetative cover alter topography. This can result in altered water runoff patterns and typically increase the rate of erosion to many times that which occurs naturally.  It is the accelerated erosion which is regulated by the Department’s Chapter 102 regulations.

The Warren County Conservation District (WCCD) has a Level II Delegation Agreement with the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  This delegation gives the WCCD authority to review and approve Erosion & Sediment (E&S) Plans, conduct site inspections, investigate complaints, provide technical assistance, process National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permits, seek voluntary compliance, as well as provide education and training to the general public, municipalities, contractors and more.


Plans and Permits

Click here to see E&S requirements for earth disturbance activities.

Below is a breakdown of earth disturbance thresholds for plans, permits, and NPDES permits that may help in determining what a landowner may need to have in place before proceeding with a project involving earth disturbance activities.

If your project:

  1. Will have less than 5,000 square feet of earth disturbance, it is not necessary to have a written plan on site but erosion and sediment control BMPs are still required to minimize the potential for accelerated erosion and sedimentation.
  2. Will have more than 5,000 square feet of earth disturbance but less than 1 acre, a written E&S plan is required to be on site and implemented. Plans are reviewed and approved by the District through agreements with local entities.  The District or DEP may request to see the E&S Plan in the event of a complaint, pollution event, or failure to implement and maintain effective E&S BMPs.  The plan may be subject to submittal for approval by the District/DEP if there are issues with the site.

*More info on E&S Plans below.

  1. Will have more than 1 acre of earth disturbance, a NPDES Permit is required to be submitted for approval to the District. Visit our NPDES page for more info.
  2. Is a timber harvesting or road maintenance activity involving 25 acres or more of earth disturbance, an E&S Permit is required to be submitted for approval to the District. Visit our NPDES page for more info.
  3. Is the construction, maintenance, or repair of a gas transmission or distribution line with 5 or more acres of earth disturbance, an Erosion and Sediment Control General Permit is required to be submitted to the District. Visit our NPDES page for more info.


Erosion and Sediment Control Plans (E&S Plans)

 A written E&S Plan is required under any of the following conditions:

  • The proposed earth disturbance activity will take place in an Exceptional Value (EV) or High Quality (HQ) Watershed or have the potential to discharge to these waters.
  • The proposed earth disturbance activity will result in a total disturbance of 5,000 square feet or more over the life of the project. (Over 5,000 but less than 43,560 square feet or 1 acre)
  • The person proposing the earth disturbance activity is required to develop a plan under the direction of other PA DEP permits or approvals (i.e. Chapter 105 stream and wetland permits, etc)
  • Written plans are required by Municipal or County Ordinances, permits, zoning, watershed plan, or similar requirements.

Erosion and Sediment Control Plans (E&S Plans) generally identify the following things:

What the earth disturbance will involve.

How erosion and sediment will be controlled during earth disturbance activities.

How the site will be stabilized after the earth disturbance activity is completed.

When writing an E&S Plan you must be sure it contains the following 15 items

(Chapter 102, Section 102.4 (b)(5):

  1. Existing Topographic Features
  2. Soils Information
  3. Characteristics of the earth disturbance activity including the past, present and proposed land uses
  4. Volume and rate of storm water runoff
  5. Location of waters of the commonwealth (streams, wetlands, storm water channels, ditches, etc.)
  6. Description of the best management practices used at the site
  7. Sequence of construction
  8. Supporting calculations and measurements
  9. Plan drawings
  10. Maintenance program
  11. Recycling and waste disposal information
  12. Identification of geologic conditions or soil features that may result in pollution
  13. Identification of potential thermal impacts
  14. Must be consistent with the storm water management plan (if applicable)
  15. Identification of riparian forest buffers (if present)

The WCCD has a Small Project Erosion and Sediment Pollution Control Plan which includes all of the required items for an E&S Plan.  The plan shall be prepared by a person trained and experienced in erosion and sediment control methods and techniques applicable to the size and scope of the project.  These smaller plans do not require certified professionals.  Please refer to the WCCD E&S Plan Review Application and Fee Schedule for review and permitting cost.

Rules & Regulations:

Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law – Act of 1937 – regulates all types of pollutants including sediment, animal manure, and sewage.  The Clean Streams Law is also the basis for many other environmental regulations as well.  Find it here.

Article 1 Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution adopted The Environmental Rights Amendment in May 1971 which states: “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic values of the environment.  Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come.  As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all of the people.”

All earth disturbance activities in Pennsylvania are regulated by the requirements of Title 25 Pa. Code Chapter 102.

PA Code, Title 25, Chapter 102.

Visit the PA DEP Bureau of Clean Water webpage for more E&S Resources.