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Land Development and Stormwater Management

Erosion and sediment control on construction sites

It is estimated that more than 85 per cent of the total amount of sediment lost from urban areas occurs during the construction phase.

Healthy Waterways have identified that the large and increasing amount of sediment entering our waterways is one of the major issues affecting waterway health across south-east Queensland. Sediment is a contaminant that can seriously degrade water quality and starve marine life of oxygen, leading to fish kills and damage to aquatic ecosystems. Sediment may be in the form of silt, sand, gravel or soils. Rapid urban and infrastructure development in south-east Queensland is predicted to cause a 60 percent increase in sediment loads to waterways within the next 20 years if a business as usual approach is maintained.

Benefits of good site management

The benefits of improving the management of stormwater during the construction phase of development and infrastructure projects are three fold:

  • Conserve topsoil which is a valuable asset
  • Protect downstream waterways from the harmful impacts of turbid stormwater
  • Reduce impacts to construction timeframes and costs from wet weather or enforcement action

The Environmental Protection Act 1994

The Environmental Protection Act 1994 aims to protect Queensland's environment while allowing for development that improves the total quality of life and is ecologically sustainable. This Act states that it is an offence to unlawfully deposit a prescribed water contaminant in to waters or where it may wash or otherwise move into the gutter, stormwater drain or waterway. Prescribed water contaminants are listed and include soil, gravel, plant material, and building and construction materials amongst other things.

Penalties

There are serious penalties applicable where not all reasonable and practicable measures have been taken to minimise contaminants from entering waters or a roadside gutter. These include on the spot fines of $1,100.00 for individuals and ranging from $2,200 up to $5,500 for corporations. Prosecution and court penalties for individuals are up to $33,000 or up to $91,850 if the contamination is done wilfully. While for corporations the maximum penalty is $165,000 or up to $459,250 if the contamination is done wilfully. Reasonable and practicable measures include preventing visable erosion, managing flows of stormwater to prevent erosion and capturing sediment before stormwater moves off the site.

Principles and Industry standards for erosion and sediment control by the Australian chapter of the International Erosion Control Association.

Environmental monitoring of our waterways by Healthy Waterways.

Land management and rehabilitation by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

Facts sheets