Portsmouth City Logo

Portsmouth Waterfront
Untitled 1 Skip Navigation Links



Erosion Control

A Layperson’s Guide to Erosion
& Sediment Control (E&SC)

 Its Just Dirt Brochure 
 Plan Requirements 
 Plan Req. Waiver 
 Agreement in Lieu of
 an E&SC Plan for a
 Single-Family Residence 

When vegetation and topsoil are stripped from a construction site, erosion is sure to follow. Exposed soil, or dirt, erodes when there's nothing to protect it from rain and wind. This eroded dirt doesn't just disappear. It usually ends up in a nearby waterway, where it eventually settles to the bottom to become sediment. In fact, this sediment just might find its way to your favorite fishing hole, smothering fish eggs and fouling the water. The rate of erosion on most construction sites is 500 times greater than what would occur naturally on an undisturbed, vegetated site. That's why urban land development is a major source of sediment pollution. In fact, by volume, sediment is currently the greatest pollutant of Virginia's rivers and streams.
You might wonder why plain, old dirt is considered a contaminant. It pollutes by clouding waters, obstructing waterways, clogging storm pipes, damaging adjacent properties and interfering with navigation. Successful minimization of these impacts can be achieved by implementing erosion and sediment control (E&SC) measures on construction sites to prevent soil movement/loss in the first place. Virginia was among the first states to specifically address E&SC from construction sites by establishing a mandatory E&SC program nearly 30 years ago. The VA Department of Conservation and Recreation implements the state E&SC Program according to the Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Law, Regulations, and Certification Regulations (VESCL&R). The E&SC Program's goal is to control soil erosion, sedimentation, and nonagricultural runoff from regulated "land-disturbing activities" to prevent degradation of property and natural resources. Please refer to DCR’s website for more information on the E&SC program: http://www.dcr.state.va.us/sw/e&s.htm

What should you do? Keep your dirt on your project! Install erosion and sediment controls properly and at the beginning of construction. And maintain the controls throughout the project.

What about Permits? Any land disturbance of 2500 square feet or more requires a Land Disturbance Permit from the City’s Engineering Department. To get the permit, an Erosion & Sediment Control Plan that meets the City's and DCR's requirements must be submitted and approved by the Engineering Department. To find out more about the land disturbance permit fees and plan requirements, please call the City’s Engineering Department at (757) 393-8592 or review the City's Erosion & Sediment Control ordinance online at: www.portsmouthva.gov/citycode.htm.

City of Portsmouth, Virginia · All Rights Reserved · Portsmouth City Hall · 801 Crawford Street · Portsmouth, VA 23704 · 757-393-8000