Charlotte’s Erosion Prevention

Charlotte gets about an average of 42.5in of rainfall every year. Because of the rainfall, constant construction, and annexing, the city of Charlotte has decided to start fining people for being part of excessive erosion. “The City of Charlotte and the County of Mecklenburg have collaborated to develop an effective erosion and sediment control enforcement program that employs frequent inspections, Notices of Violation, and fines as well as an appeal process to effectively and fairly require compliance,” says John Geer, Water Quality/Erosion Control Administrator in Charlotte. The very first Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Ordinance was passed in 1974.
In 1999 the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors adopted a Surface Water Improvement and Management Plan (SWIM) that included steps to try to reduce sediment, a major pollutant in the county’s waterways. One of the efforts initiated was an increase in inspection and enforcement activities and coordination efforts between city and county agencies involved in erosion control. SWIM also required a water quality focus for all erosion control activities and monitoring of erosion control efforts to determine a reduction of sediment levels in area streams.
Several methods have been put in place to ensure that erosion and sediment control is used successfully on construction sites. Disturbing land without a permit results in a fine of $5,000 per day. Before any land disturbance, a form naming the person “financially responsible” is completed for each project. The financially responsible party is on record as the party to accept any Notices of Violation or related documents for any noncompliance with the City of Charlotte’s Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Ordinance.
Fines range from $250 to $3,000 per day depending on whether off-site sedimentation has occurred. Inspectors have collected fines of over $100,000 per year. After the initial development (infrastructure) in a subdivision is complete, the developer or builder signs a Sediment Basin Agreement that stipulates what is to be done with the sediment basin on-site and whether and how it should be maintained. Several streams have shown a reduction in sediment levels since the program began in 1999. Additional monitoring is needed to establish long-term trends.

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