Erosion and Sediment FAQs

Tab/Accordion Item

Some local governments have their own sediment and erosion control programs. To determine if your area has such a program, check the Local Programs page. If your area does not have a local program, then contact the appropriate DEQ - DEMLR - Regional Office that serves your area or use the Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources' toll-free hotline, 1-866-STOPMUD.

Agricultural – NCDA&CS – Division of Soil & Water Conservation and the Soil & Water Conservation Districts

Forestry – NCDA&CS – Forestry Service

Mining – NCDEQ – DEMLR – Mining Program

Post-Construction Stormwater – NCDEQ – DEMLR – Stormwater Program

The law governs all land-disturbing activities in NC with exemptions for agriculture, forestry, mining and emergency situations. Erosion and sedimentation control (E&SC) are required regardless of the size of the disturbance. The law requires land developers to plan and implement effective temporary and permanent control measures to prevent accelerated erosion and off-site sedimentation. Further, if the installed protective measures do not work, additional measures must be taken.

Exemptions explained:

In general, agricultural lands used for the production of plants and animals useful to man are exempt from the SPCA. As long as best management practices in the Forest Practice Guidelines Related to Water Quality are followed, activities undertaken on forestland for the production and harvesting of timber are exempt. Lands used for mining are also exempt as they are subject to the Mining Act of 1971 regulations. In emergency situations that threaten human lives, land may be disturbed without an immediate erosion and sedimentation control plan approval.

The law requires the installation and maintenance of sufficient erosion control practices to retain sediment within the boundaries of the site. It also requires that surfaces be non-erosive and stable after completion of the activity. In certain high quality watersheds, this stabilization must be achieved sooner after completion of the activity.

An erosion and sedimentation control (E&SC) plan must be submitted at least 30 days before land disturbance begins on any site involving over one acre in disturbance. The E&SC plan must be approved by the regulatory agency before any land-disturbing activities are begun. The E&SC plan requires a thorough evaluation of the site and the proposed land-disturbing activities in the planning phase of the development. The details and requirements for this plan are found in Chapter 4 of the E&SC Design Manual. Primary requirements are as follows:

  • A sufficient buffer zone must be retained or established along any natural watercourse or lake to contain all visible sediment to the first 25% of the buffer strip nearest the disturbed area. An undisturbed 25-foot buffer must be maintained along trout waters.
  • The angle of cut-and-fill slopes must be no greater than that sufficient for proper stabilization. Graded slopes must be vegetated or otherwise stabilized within 21 calendar days of completion of a phase of grading.
  • Off-site sedimentation must be prevented, and a ground cover sufficient to prevent erosion must be provided.

Erosion and sedimentation control measures must be designed to provide protection from a rainfall event equivalent in magnitude to the 10-year peak runoff. In areas where High Quality Waters (HQW’s) are a concern, the design requirement is the 25-year storm. Runoff velocities must be controlled so that the peak runoff from the 10-year frequency storm occurring during or after construction will not damage the receiving stream channel at the discharge point. The velocity must not exceed the greater of:

  • the maximum non-erosive velocity of the existing channel, based on soil texture (Table 8.05d, Appendix 8.05 of the E&SC Design Manual), or
  • peak velocity in the channel prior to disturbance.

If neither condition can be met, then protective measures must be applied to the receiving channel.

During construction, the person financially responsible for site development is responsible for the maintenance of the erosion and sedimentation control practices installed. The landowner may also be held responsible. After construction is complete and the surface is permanently stabilized, responsibility passes to the landowner or the person managing the land.

The individual(s) who holds signature authority for the company and is claiming financial responsibility for the land-disturbing activity. This is typically an officer of the company such as a president, vice-president, CEO or CFO.  It can also include executive directors, managers of Limited Liability Companies, partners, and court-appointed fiduciaries. Registered Agents with authority to execute instruments on behalf of the company may also sign this form. 

If the company is a sole proprietorship, the owner must sign this form on behalf of the company. 

An individual or their attorney-in-fact who plans to conduct a land-disturbing activity must sign this form as the Financially Responsible Person. 

Items to remember: 

  1. If the Financially Responsible Party is a company registered on the North Carolina Secretary of State's Office business registration list (aka registry), the name of the Registered Agent and street address of the Agent's registered office must be provided on this form. The mailing address must also be provided if it differs from the street address.  
  2. If the Financially Responsible Party is not a resident of North Carolina, the name of the North Carolina agent who is registered on the NC Secretary of State business registry to receive correspondence on behalf of the company and street address of the agent's registered office must be provided on this form. The mailing address must also be provided if it differs from the street address.
  3. If the Financially Responsible Party is engaging in business under an assumed name, give name under which the company is Doing Business As (DBA name).
  4. If the Financially Responsible Party is an individual, General Partnership or other company not registered and doing business as or under an assumed name, a copy of the Certificate of Assumed Name must be attached to this form. 
  5. The name, mailing and street addresses of the land owner(s) must also be provided on this form.

The SPCA created the Sedimentation Control Commission (SCC) to develop and administer the state of North Carolina’s sedimentation and erosion control program. This program is implemented by the DEQ, Division of Energy, Mineral, and Land Resources (DEMLR), Land Quality Section (LQS) under the Commission’s direction. Authorized local governments or agencies may adopt their own ordinances; however, these delegated local programs must be approved by the Commission and must meet or exceed the minimum standards set by the State. If their programs are approved, local governments administer and enforce them. Because these local programs vary and may be more stringent than state requirements, consult the administering agency to avoid violations of local ordinances.

The SPCA provides authority to the State or delegated local programs to inspect land-disturbing activities and to prosecute violators. Citizens damaged by violations of the SPCA may also take action through the courts.

Civil penalties assessed by the State or authorized delegated programs carry a maximum fine of $5,000/day per violation for each day that the site is in violation.

Criminal penalties for knowing or willful violations may be imposed to a maximum of 90 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Administrative stop-work orders or injunctions may be issued by the courts.

§ 113A-64.  Penalties

The State assists and encourages local governments and other state agencies to develop their own E&SC programs. The Land Quality Section (LQS) reviews local programs as needed to assure uniform enforcement of the SPCA. The State develops educational and instructional materials to demonstrate methods and practices for erosion and sedimentation control. The State has developed a set of rules pertaining to sedimentation and erosion control. These rules were adopted as Title 15A, Chapter 4 of the North Carolina Administrative Code.

Not for submitting E&SC plans to DEMLR or disturbing land or inspecting a site under DEMLR's jurisdiction. If you are under the jurisdiction of and submitting plans to a local government's program or other agency, such as if you are working on a NCDOT project, then you must follow their requirements. However, there are certifications & qualifications that are useful for planning and implementing E&SC within North Carolina; for more information, see the Additional Training Opportunities section of the Erosion and Sedimentation Education website.

According to State requirements, an E&SC plan must be filed when any land-disturbing activity will disturb more than one acre. Plans must be submitted 30 or more days prior to initiating the land disturbing activity. Plans may be filed less than 30 days prior if it is approved to be submitted under an express permit program.

Because local programs vary and may be more stringent than State requirements, consult the administering agency to avoid violations of local ordinances.

There is a $100* non-refundable review processing fee for each acre of disturbed land or any part of an acre of disturbed land (including off-site borrow and waste areas).  No processing fee will be charged for a revised plan unless the revised plan contains an increase in the number of acres to be disturbed.

Application fees should be sent to the appropriate Regional Office** based on the project location.

*As of November 19, 2021, the application fee is $100/per acre for new or revised plans. 

**For projects that fall under the jurisdiction of a delegated local program contact the appropriate agency for the fee amount and submission requirements.

The DEQ-DEMLR Erosion & Sediment Control (E&SC) Program does not have an approved product list. The Sedimentation Pollution Control Act of 1973 is a performance-oriented law: it prohibits visible off-site sedimentation from construction sites but permits the owner and developer to determine the most economical, effective methods for erosion and sedimentation control. Our E&SC Planning and Design Manual contains tools, information and guidelines based upon proven practices and technologies. This manual is intended to minimize the time required to design practices under typical site conditions, but these are not the ‘required’ solutions. As such, anyone can use a product or Best Management Practice (BMP) as long as it is included on the submitted E&SC plan, and they are able to prove via the calculations submitted with the plan/application that the BMP is as good as or better than that recommended in the Manual. Each approval is on a case-by-case basis.

Because delegated E&SC Programs, such as those that fall under the jurisdiction of local governments or the NCDOT, vary and may be more stringent than State requirements, consult with the administering agency to avoid violations of local ordinances.