Erosion and sediment control (ESC) on construction sites

The State Planning Policy and Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (SPA) regulate future planning and development and development approvals should include provisions relating to construction and operation of developments. Not all activities undertaken that have the risk of causing environmental harm, require development approval under the SPA (e.g. building works approved only under the Building Act 1975 or plumbing and drainage works approved under the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002 or Development under the 2500 square metre threshold in the SPP Water quality Interim Development provisions) and not all development approvals have adequate or specific provisions regulating the management of erosion and sediment controls.

Land and infrastructure development (all residential, commercial, industrial and public infrastructure developments on land, such as subdivisions, roads, rail, bulk water distribution and hospitals) are subject to legal requirements for depositing prescribed water contaminants in waters, including water contamination caused by the release of sediments during the construction stage under complementary provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act).

    Updated Procedural Guides for consultation

    The Department has prepared compliance notes to provide officers authorised under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act) with an assessment tool for undertaking Erosion and Sediment Control Practices (ESC) compliance inspections at construction sites in South East Queensland (SEQ), and to aid the decision making process in applying enforcement provisions under the EP Act.

    These documents have been applied on construction and land development sites across South East Queensland by departmental officers and Local Governments with delegation under the EP Act and by industry in designing and implementing Erosion and sediment controls. These procedural Guides have been reviewed for application across Queensland and to incorporate evolving sediment management technologies including high efficiency sediment basins.

    The draft updated Procedural Guides and summary sheets for review:

    A complementary draft procedural guidelines for building scale activity has been developed to incorporate the new erosion and sediment control online tools for the building and construction sectors.

    New erosion and sediment control online tools for the building and construction sectors

    New online tools to assist the building and construction sectors to meet their erosion and sediment control requirements have been prepared by the department, Master Builders Queensland, the Housing Industry Association (Qld) and Healthy Waterways Ltd.

    The factsheets and compliance guidelines provide technical advice and mobile user-friendly checklists to prevent sediment leaving building and construction sites and reaching our local waterways, Moreton Bay and the iconic Great Barrier Reef.

    See the Healthy Waterways online Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) Toolkit on the Healthy Waterways website.

    The revised format will allow builders and contractors to easily access information on appropriate management practices on-site via their mobile devices. They include covering exposed soil to minimise erosion; maintaining kerb to lot groundcover stockpile protection; runoff from adjacent sites; downpipe connections; entry /exit pad; course sediment barriers, stormwater inlet protection and road verge maintenance and emerging management practices such as and high efficiency sediment basins for land development sites” Dr Miles said.

    Over 40,000 hectares of urban expansion is required for the construction of 740,000 new homes in south-east Queensland by 2031. To reduce the risk of major increases in sediment, nutrients and toxicancts to SEQ waterways and Moreton Bay, best parctice land development and its construction is essential—and these tools will assist industry and LG to achieve legislative compliance.

    These on-line tools will also reduce sediment sources from urban development entering the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. These form part of the actions under the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan including the specific requirements, to implement best practice stormwater management (e.g. erosion and sediment control, water sensitive urban design and capture of gross pollutants) for new development in coastal catchments and build capacity for local government and industry to improve water quality management in urban areas.

    Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) capacity building workshops

    Industry and local governments will have an opportunity to test these materials and provide feedback during face-to face capacity building workshops, which will be held in Hervey Bay, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville Cairns, Gold Coast and Brisbane between April and June 2016.

    Further information on Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) capacity building workshops.