Sediment is the number one pollutant for surface waters throughout the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
Sediment is soil particles that have eroded from the land or streams banks. Sedimentation is the process of soil particles depositing and accumulating in areas such as the bottom of a stream, pond, wetland, or lake. Sedimentation results in significant negative impacts such as increased water treatment costs, destruction of wildlife habitat, reduced flood protection, diminished property values, and even negative health impacts.
In urbanized and developed areas, erosion and sedimentation are caused primarily by rainfall and stormwater runoff. When vegetation is removed, soils that are exposed and disturbed at construction sites are transported by wind and rain to streets and stormwater drainage systems, and then into streams, ponds and lakes. Increased stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces causes bank erosion and stream instability, resulting in additional sedimentation impacts. When one considers that hundreds (or even thousands) of acres of land are disturbed and developed across Charlotte and Mecklenburg County every year, the importance of soil erosion and sedimentation control is apparent.
For these reasons, the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and the six towns have soil erosion and sedimentation control regulations. These regulations require that land developers meet mandatory standards for stormwater protection during construction activity that will “permit development of this [Community] to continue with the least detrimental effects from pollution by sedimentation.” (Sec. 17-2 Charlotte Code of Ordinances).
More specifically, these regulations require builders and developers to implement structural Best Management Practices (BMPs) like perimeter sediment fence, construction entrances, and sediment basins to control sedimentation from their site. Larger projects that disturb one or more acres must first seek and obtain plan approval and permit coverage from Charlotte or Mecklenburg County prior to conducting any land disturbing activity to ensure that BMPs are selected properly and implemented correctly.
The City and County each employ a team of professionals to inspect construction sites and monitor receiving streams within their jurisdiction. When inspectors find deficiencies in site operation or management they work with owners and developers to correct those issues and ensure optimal erosion and sedimentation protections. In cases where violations are excessive, intentional, or result in significant offsite sedimentation or environmental damage, civil penalties up to $5,000 for each day the site remains non-compliant can be assessed.
If you observe a suspected violation like muddy streets or the impacts of sedimentation in streams, please report it immediately so City or County staff can respond and take steps to minimize impacts to water quality. You can call 311 or email us to report suspected violations. Visit Report A Problem for more info. You may also contact staff from the City of Charlotte or Mecklenburg County directly. See contact information below.
If you are interested in additional information about Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control you may attend a quarterly training seminar. For almost 15 years the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County have partnered to offer a training class specifically related to the practice of soil erosion and sedimentation control within these jurisdictions. For more information about the class, including the date of our next class and registration options, see CMCSI Classes.
To view local Soil Erosion and Control Ordinances and learn more about the permitting process, see
Questions about Soil Erosion?
City of Charlotte Water Quality Program Administrator
Mecklenburg County Project Manager I