Construction Sites

Sediment & Soil Issues


By volume, sediment is currently the greatest pollutant of Virginia's river and streams. A primary cause of sediment pollution is activity from constructions sites. Erosion on most construction sites is 500 times greater than what would naturally occur on an undisturbed, vegetated site; confirming that construction activity worsens erosion. During land disturbing activity on a construction site, land is stripped of vegetation that once protected soil from natural elements such as rain, wind and snow. This newly exposed soil is transported, via stormwater, to a nearby waterway where it pollutes by clouding waters, obstructing waterways, clogging storm pipes, damaging adjacent properties and interfering with navigation. Successful mitigation of these impacts can be achieved by implementing erosion and sediment control (E&SC) measures at the initial construction phase, and maintaining these controls throughout the duration of a project. Visit the Department of Environmental Quality for more information.

E&SC Program


Virginia was one of the first states to specifically address E&SC from construction sites by establishing a mandatory E&SC program nearly 30 years ago. The Commonwealth of Virginia administers the state E&SC Program according to the Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Law and Regulations (VESCL&R) and Certification Regulations. The E&SC Program's goal is to control soil erosion, sedimentation and nonagricultural runoff from regulated "land-disturbing activities" to prevent degradation of downstream properties and waterways. Please refer to DEQ's website for more information on the E&SC program.

Action Steps & Permit


What should you do? Keep your dirt on your project! Install erosion and sediment controls properly before any upslope land disturbance begins and maintain these controls throughout the project. What about Permits? Any land disturbance of 2500 square feet or more requires a Land Disturbance Permit from the City's Engineering Department. To receive the permit, an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan that meets the City's and DEQ's requirements must be submitted and approved by the Engineering Department. To find out more about the land disturbance permit fees and plan requirements, please call the City's Engineering Department at 757-393-8592 or review the City's Erosion and Sediment Control ordinance.