As you move forward with plans for new construction, it is important to look at the land and develop a plan for minimizing the impacts of any new earth disturbance activities.
Understand the Effects of Earth Disturbance
Any activities that result in earth disturbance, whether it be construction of a single-family home or a 100-acre residential subdivision, can result in accelerated rates of erosion and sedimentation pollution. Sediment pollution is responsible for degrading the quality of drinking water, wildlife habitat, as well as the surrounding landscape. Increased sediment loads within a stream are known to disrupt food chains, destroy aquatic organism habitat, clog fish gills, and even alter the flow of water within the stream.
Sediment within lakes and ponds can also disrupt recreational activities, such as boating, by reducing the water depth and making it difficult to navigate. Sediment in lakes can also bring with it nutrients and phosphorous attached to the soil particles, which can feed the growth of unwanted algae in the lake environment.
Know the Rules
Due to the implications of sediment pollution, federal, state, and local rules and regulations have been developed around the topic of erosion and sedimentation. In Pennsylvania, Title 25, Chapter 102 requires persons proposing or conducting earth disturbance activities to develop, implement and maintain Best Management Practices to minimize the potential for accelerated erosion and sedimentation. A written Erosion and Sediment (E&S) Control Plan is required for all earth disturbance activities with the potential for discharge to waters classified as “High Quality” or “Exceptional Value” waters (which includes most of Pike County). In addition, the E&S Plan must be available at the project site during all stages of the earth disturbance activity. The Plan must be submitted to the Conservation District for review if required by the local municipality (or, in some cases, a Community Association) or requested by the Conservation District. Both landowners and contractors may be held responsible for any violation(s) of Chapter 102 regulations.
Contact the Conservation District
If you are planning an activity that will result in any type of earth disturbance and are unsure of permitting requirements you can contact the PA Department of Environmental Protection Regional Office responsible for your area or your County Conservation District. The Pike County Conservation District has developed an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan Worksheet/Small Projects Guide to help projects with less than one acre of disturbance meet regulatory requirements. Additional information regarding erosion and sedimentation and permitting requirements can be found on the Pike County Conservation District website.
Unfortunately, permits and regulations alone cannot prevent sediment pollution. It is up to each individual engaging in earth disturbance activities to understand the negative impacts of erosion and sedimentation and what steps they can take to prevent those impacts.