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The NC Sedimentation Pollution Control Act of 1973 requires all land disturbing activity, regardless of the size of disturbance, to control erosion and sedimentation (except agriculture and mining, which are covered by different regulations). It also requires an Erosion & Sedimentation Control Plan for any activity that uncovers one or more acres of land; however, many local jurisdictions have established more stringent requirements due to the steep slopes and landslide prone areas of the region, as well as to protect the state-designated High Quality Waters and trout waters.

Erosion & Sedimentation Control Plan Overview

Erosion controls prevent erosion by protecting soils. Sediment controls remove sediment from runoff before the runoff is discharged from the site. The NC Sedimentation Pollution Control Act is performance-based, meaning it prohibits visible off-site sedimentation, but allows the owner and developer to choose the most economical and effective methods to use.

Major types of erosion and sediment control practices (NCG01 Fact Sheet, 2011).

Land Cover
Mulches, straw, hydro mulch Vegetative buffer strips Temporary or permanent seeding
Blankets and other “rolled” products Vegetative practices Sod stabilization
Structural Practices
Earthen dike Check dams Temporary storm drain diversion
Silt fence Level spreader Storm drain inlet protection
Drainage swales Pipe slope drain

Rock outlet protection

Sediment traps and basins    

Main requirements:

  • Sufficient control practices to retain sediment within the boundaries of the site.
  • Surfaces must be non-erosive 15 working days or 90 calendar days after completion of activity, whichever period is shorter. In areas of  High Quality Waters, stabilization must be achieved in 15 workings days or 60 calendar days.
  • A E&SC plan must be submitted at least 30 days before the land disturbance begins on any site 1 acre or larger.
  • A buffer zone must be retained or established along any natural watercourse or lake to contain sediment within the first 25% of the buffer nearest the disturbed area.
  • Trout waters require a 25-foot buffer.
  • Graded slopes must be vegetated or otherwise stabilized within 21 calendar days of completion of a phase of grading.
  • Control measures must be designed to handle the 10-year peak runoff magnitude, or the 25-year storm in High Quality Waters.

The Erosion and Sediment Control Planning and Design Manual provides detailed descriptions of these requirements, control practices, and E&SC plan preparation. Several WNC towns, cities, and counties also have additional requirements; see the Local Regulations section below.


Temporary seeding and mulching are the most common methods to meet the 21-day stabilization requirement for graded slopes. Annual plants that are adapted to site conditions, and sprout and grow rapidly should be used. These must be reseeded or planted with perennial vegetation within one year (Erosion and Sediment Control Planning and Design Manual).


TRAINING AVAILABLE: NCSU offers three levels of training for E&SC, including the design of E&SC Control Plans.


Local Regulations

Many WNC towns, cities and counties have additional E&SC requirements, especially in steep slope areas. The following table lists the jurisdiction, the size of land disturbance or other special conditions triggering an E&SC plan, and the information resource. This contact list also provides further information.

Local Erosion & Sedimentation Control Program Overview


E&SC Plan Trigger

Information Resources


10,000 sq ft or more

Stormwater Services Division

Avery County

½ acre in Watershed Protection Areas WS-I, WS-II, WS-III

Sedimentation & Erosion Ordinance

Buncombe County

¼ acre or more if slope 25% or more; ½ acre or more if slope 15-25%

Erosion Control Office

Beech Mountain

½ acre or more of disturbance

Zoning Ordinance


½ acre or more of disturbance for single family or duplex residential; > 2,500 sq ft for commercial

Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance

Haywood County

½ acre or more of disturbance

Erosion and Sedimentation Control Department

Henderson County

¼ acre or more if slope greater than 25%; ½ acre or more if slope 16-25%

Erosion Control Local Program


0 – 30% slope and 3,000 sq ft or more, > 30% slope and any land-disturbing activity

Unified Development Ordinance

Jackson County

½ acre or more of disturbance

Permitting and Code Enforcement

Lake Lure

> 100 sq ft within 50ft of lake or natural watercourse; > 500 sq ft and more than 50ft

Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Regulations

Macon County

½ acre or more of disturbance

Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Ordinance

Watauga County

> ½ acre, but may be waived upon site inspection

Erosion Control Ordinance


NC G01 Fact Sheet. 2011.