Erosion and Sediment Control

‘Erosion and sediment control’ may not sound like the most exciting topic, but at Umwelt our Water Resources Engineering team are all over it. They understand its importance and are helping clients meet their legal obligations to protect our waterways.

What is erosion?

Erosion is a process where soil, rock or other fragmented material (referred to as ‘sediment’) is transported from one place to another by an external force. The result of erosion is ‘sedimentation’, the process of sediment accumulating in a given location.

Erosion and sedimentation are natural processes driven by the flow of water, wind and gravity. These processes have shaped the earth and are responsible for incredible features like the Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road and the Grand Canyon in the USA. However, acceleration of these natural processes can have negative environmental and economic impacts.

Why is erosion a problem?

Uncontrolled or accelerated erosion can cause structures to become unstable. Sediment from erosion can block drainage networks, silt up water bodies and devastate aquatic ecosystems. Sediment blocks light from reaching aquatic plants – reducing oxygen levels and eventually choking aquatic species.

Because of the potentially harmful impacts, sediment transported into the environment as a result of human activities is considered a pollutant. Section 120 of the NSW Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997, states that it is an offence to pollute waterways, or allow pollution to occur.

For example, it is an offence to pollute waters through a negligent action. Negligence might include allowing sediment from a stockpile of soil or sand to escape and be entrained in runoff which subsequently enters a stormwater drain and ultimately a receiving water body.

How to prevent erosion.

It is crucial to proactively manage erosion risks and minimise transport of sediment off-site in stormwater runoff or as wind-blown dust. This is especially the case for construction sites and larger developments, such as linear infrastructure projects (highways, railways, pipelines), extractive industries (mines and quarries) and any other developments where significant ground disturbance will occur. Through years of experience working with clients to implement best practice erosion and sediment controls, Umwelt has become a leader in Erosion and Sediment Control.

Senior Water Engineer, Melissa Swan, is a Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control (CPESC) and fellow Senior Water Engineer Chris Bonomini has recently commenced the process to consolidate his experience and achieve CPESC accreditation. This will give Umwelt two fully accredited CPESC professionals out of a total of only 13 in the Hunter Valley.

Mel and Chris have recently worked on several significant road projects with Roads and Maritime Services. They’re experienced in preparing erosion & sediment control plans, and providing site verification services aimed at limiting erosion and minimising the transport of entrained sediment in off-site stormwater discharges.

Our Senior Water Engineers’ recent projects include: road upgrades along University Drive at the University of Newcastle, Callaghan; the Industrial Highway at Tourle Street, Mayfield West; and, Cessnock Road at Maitland. Mel and Chris have also prepared numerous soil and water management plans incorporating erosion and sediment controls for clients operating coal mines, hard rock and sand quarries, resource recovery facilities and waste handling facilities.

Umwelt continues to further develop its expertise in erosion and sediment control, and to advise clients throughout the Hunter Valley to ensure projects meet legal obligations and minimise sediment pollution of downstream waterways. Over time, this will continue to have increasingly beneficial impacts for aquatic ecosystems within the Hunter Valley.