Chapter 102 Erosion and Sediment Pollution Control
The Chapter 102 regulations (also known as erosion and sediment control regulations, or E&S regulations for short) are regulations aimed at preventing “muddy water” from entering wells, sinkholes, streams, waterways, and any other “clean” water found in the state. It is against these regulations to conduct earth-moving activities of any kind that cause erosion of soils that leads to sediment-laden water (“muddy water”) leaving the site and traveling onto someone else’s property, or into streams, ditches, waterways, wetlands, sinkholes, or private/ public wells. As a general way of thinking, if you are involved in activities that cause muddy water to leave your site, you may be in violation of the Chapter 102 regulations. E&S regulations require that any sediment-laden water (“dirty” water) be treated to remove sediment prior to this water leaving your site. Treating usually occurs by filtering water through a number of measures that allows sediment to “settle out”. Silt fence, straw bale barriers, rock filters, and settling ponds are common examples of how sediment is removed.
This point needs to be made: the easiest, cheapest, and most environmentally sound way to deal with erosion is to prevent it from happening (or limiting the potential for erosion). This can be done in any number of ways, such as: clear the site in stages, only clearing the areas where work will be done immediately; re-seeding and mulching all disturbed areas immediately after grading is complete; retain as much vegetation (grass and tree cover) on site as possible. The District can provide you with an Erosion and Sedimentation Guide for smaller projects if you or someone you know would be interested.
As written under Chapter 102, if you are planning any size construction activity in PA, Chapter 102 and the PA Clean Streams Law require that steps be taken to prevent erosion and/ or treat sediment-laden water in the construction areas prior to the start of construction. Sites adjacent to a watercourse or wetlands, or associated with steep slopes, are particularly sensitive. If erosion occurs on site and dirty water enters another property, a waterway of any size, or a wetland, the Department or the Conservation District may request to see a written E&S plan, or may require that a plan and/ or specific measures be installed. An E&S plan is a written depiction of what steps are to be taken to prevent erosion and treat any “dirty” water before discharging this water off-site.
If you are planning to disturb more than 5000 square feet (approx. 1/10 ac.) during earth-moving or if your site is located in a special protection (SP) watershed, Chapter 102 requires an E&S plan be developed and implemented on site prior to starting earthmoving activities. Watershed listings can be found at: http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/025/chapter93/chap93toc.html. In such situations you are not required to submit an E&S plan to the District, although we encourage everyone to work closely with the District. We offer free technical assistance/ guidance to any interested party (you are still required to take steps to prevent “muddy water” from leaving your site).
Generally speaking, there are three ways that you would be REQUIRED to submit a written E&S plan for review and approval by the Conservation District prior to starting earthmoving activities. One: you are going to disturb one or more acres over the life of the project and are required to submit for an NPDES permit (see below). Two: a local, state, or federal entity with which you need approval/ permits requires that you provide an approved E&S plan before they will approve/ permit your project/ activity. Three: your activities are determined by either the Department or the Conservation District to have the potential to discharge sediment-laden (dirty) water into a stream, watercourse, wetland, etc.
REMEMBER: under the Clean Streams Law and the Chapter 102 regulations both the landowner and the contractors may be held responsible when sediment-laden water is running or discharged from a construction site.