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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 jurisdictions 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, ordinances  and information resources. Note: many towns and cities delegate to the county so are not listed separately.  This contact list also provides further information.

Local Erosion & Sedimentation Control Program Overview


E&SC Plan Trigger

Ordinance & Date

Information Resources


All development unless specified in Section 7-12-2(a)(7)

UDO Section 7-12-2 (5/23/23)

Development Services

Avery County

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

Soil & Erosion Ordinance (7/12/21)

Planning Department

Buncombe County

Hillside Subdivision disturbing ¼ acre or more

Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance (4/28/23)

Erosion Control Office

Beech Mountain

½ acre or more of disturbance

Code of Ordinances Section 154.21 (02/08/22)

Planning Department

Black Mountain

5000 sf of disturbance or more (1 acre or more delegated to Buncombe County)

UDO Section 8.1.4 (06/15/22)

Stormwater Department


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

UDO Chapter 20 (12/14/22)

Planning Department

Haywood County

All development requiring a building or septic permit. Less than ½ acre does not require an engineered plan. Greater than ½ acre requires an engineered plan.

Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance (1/1/23)

Development Services Land Disturbing Activities

Henderson County

1 acre or more of disturbance

Land Development Code Chapter VIII Subpart E (07/20/22)

Erosion Control Local Program


All land disturbing activities except for those 3000 sf or less with a waiver and properties with Category 3 Slopes

UDO Section 12.4 & 12.5 (05/13/23)

Planning Department

Jackson County

½ acre or more of disturbance

UDO Section 5.3 (10/04/22)

Planning Department

Lake Lure

> 100 sq ft within 35ft of lake or natural watercourse; > 2000 sq ft and more than 35ft from lake or natural watercourse

Code of Ordinances Chapter 22 Article 2 (05/15/22)

Community Development Department

Macon County

½ acre or more of disturbance or land disturbance in an area with a slope greater than 1:1

Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Ordinance (03/08/22)

Planning Department Enviromental Section

Watauga County

> ½ acre, for disturbance between ½ acre and 1 acre, requirement may be waived by Watauga County Department of Planning and Inspection

Land Development Ordinance Chapter 8 (11/16/21)

Planning and Inspections


NC G01 Fact Sheet. 2011.