Georgia Water/Laws/Erosion and Sedimentation Act

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Erosion and Sedimentation Act of 1975 O.C.G.A. 12-7-1. text and Code sections

Summary of the Act[edit]

"This Georgia law regulates land-disturbing activity, which is defined as "any activity which may result in soil erosion from water or wind and the movement of sediments into state water or onto lands within the state, including, but not limited to, clearing, dredging, grading, excavating, transporting, and filling of land but not including agricultural practices as described in paragraph (5) of Code Section 12-7-17."
A number of activities are exempted from regulation under this act, including:

  • surface mining and granite quarrying (they are covered under other laws);
  • minor activities (home gardens, landscaping, etc.);
  • agricultural operations;
  • projects conducted under NRCS supervision;
  • DOT projects; and
  • public water system reservoirs.

Partial exemptions apply to

  • forestry land management practices,
  • activities of utility companies,
  • state road and tollway authorities, and
  • any projects involving less than one acre of disturbed area.

The Department of Natural Resources' Environmental Protection Division (EPD) is responsible for enforcing the law. EPD may delegate duties to local issuing authorities. In order to be certified as a local issuing authority, a local government must have local ordinances for land disturbing activities, the ability to enforce such ordinances, and qualified personnel to monitor and enforce permits.

Applicants for land disturbing permits must demonstrate that they have erosion and sedimentation control plans that meet |Best Management Practices established for the particular application.

The law also mandates stream buffer protection; for most streams, a 25 foot buffer is required, but for trout streams a 50 foot buffer must be maintained. An exemption to this buffer requirement was added to allow stream crossing for water and sewer lines, however there are specific guidelines to be followed in order to protect these streams." [1], [2]

Act Amendments in 2003[edit]

In 2003, the Act was amended by HB 285, which requires a mandatory certification program for individuals involved in land disturbing activities [3]

  • 12-7-19(a). After December 31, 2006, all persons involved in land development design, review, permitting, construction, monitoring, or inspection or any land-disturbing activity shall meet the education and training certification requirements
  • 12-7-20. Creates a Stakeholder Advisory Board to oversee the education and training program.
  • 12-7-21(a). Creates a study panel to recommend erosion controls and turbidity standards, by July 2006.
  • 12-7-22. Calls for an electronic filing and reporting system.
  • 12-5-23(5)(B). Sets up a fee system ($80 per acre land disturbed) administered by Georgia EPD.

Legislative history[edit]

The completion report of the Dirt II panel includes a detailed timeline of events related to the Georgia program. [4]

Specific provisions[edit]

Administration of the Act[edit]

Effectiveness of the Act[edit]

The Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts conducted a performance audit of the state's erosion and control program in 2001, with a follow-up review in 2004.

References[edit]

State documents[edit]

  1. Appendix G. Laws and regulations affecting wildlife in Georgia Acknowledgment that first draft of section (here) on "Summary of the Act" was quoted from this Appendix G.
  2. Repairing the Chattahoochee - The Dirt II Technical Panel Completion Report, A Summary of the Work, Findings, Recommendations,and History of the Erosion and Sedimentation Control Technical Study Committee, published by the Chattahoochee-Flint Regional Development Center, Franklin, Georgia, July 2001.
  3. Erosion Prevention and Sediment Control in Georgia - A Development Guide to Risk Management and Cost Control, 1993, by the Dirt II Technical Panel.
  4. “Performance Audit - Erosion and Sediment Control Program, DNR Environmental Protection Division and State Soil and Water Conservation Commission, September 2001,” by Performance Audit Operations Division, Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts.
  5. "Follow-Up Review - Erosion and Sedimentation Control Program, DNR: Environmental Protection Division and State Soil and Water Conservation Commission," Performance Audit and Operations Division, Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts, November 2004, Report 04-23.
  6. Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division, “Authorization to Discharge Under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Storm Water Discharges Associated with Construction Activities,” signed June 12, 2000, effective August 1, 2000 through July 31, 2003. (This has been superseded by the newer 2003 permit, Georgia Stormwater General Permit for Construction Activities.)
  7. Rules of Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Chapter 391-3-7, Erosion and sediment control.

Best management practices[edit]

  1. Demonstration Sites of Best Management Practices: A Manual for the Upper Etowah River Alliance, Fall 2001, Michael Bien, Jehan El-Jourbagy, Liv LiaBraaten, Shana Udvardy. River Basin Center, University of Georgia. (Demonstrating the use of BMPs to control stormwater runoff and erosion at two sites in the Etowah watershed.)
  2. James E. Kundell and Todd C. Rasmussen, Erosion and Sedimentation: Scientific and Regulatory Issues (Atlanta, GA: Georgia Board of Natural Resources, 1995).

Riparian buffers[edit]

  1. Georgia's Trout Stream Buffer Program Assessment Under the Georgia Erosion and Sedimentation Act and Georgia Water Quality Control Act, by Terry A. DeMeo, Don R. Christy, and James E. Kundell, Carl Vinson Institute of Government - University of Georgia, Athens GA, 2005. (Funded by Georgia EPD)
  2. "Implications of Changes in Riparian Buffer Protection for Georgia's Trout Streams, Institute of Ecology, The University of Georgia, Athens GA, 2005. (Funded by Georgia EPD, compared the potential effectiveness of 100-foot versus 50-foot buffers in providing healthy conditions for trout.)
  3. Guidebook for Developing Local Riparian Buffer Ordinances, 2000, by Seth Wenger and Laurie Fowler, River Basin Center, University of Georgia.
  4. Habitat Conservation Plan for the Upper Etowah River Watershed: Road Crossings - Effects and Recommendations, Fall 2001, Audrey Baggett, Erica Chiao, Tracey Harton. River Basin Center, University of Georgia. (Recommendations for bridge and culvert design to protect aquatic habitat in the Upper Etowah watershed; part of a watershed-wide Habitat Conservation Plan being developed for darters and other aquatic life.)
  5. 2001 Progress Report: Trout Stream Buffer Study, December 2001, James E. Kundell, Judy L. Meyer, Elizabeth A. Kramer, C. Rhett Jackson, Geoffrey C. Poole, Krista L. Jones, B. Lane Rivenbark, Laura E. England, Mark C. Scott, William Bumback. River Basin Center, University of Georgia.
  6. 2002 Progress Report: Trout Stream Buffer Study, June 2002, James E. Kundell, Judy L. Meyer, Elizabeth A. Kramer, C. Rhett Jackson, Geoffrey C. Poole, Krista L. Jones, B. Lane Rivenbark, William Bumback. River Basin Center, University of Georgia.
  7. Protecting Stream and River Corridors: Creating Effective Local Riparian Buffer Ordinances, 2000, Seth Wenger and Laurie Fowler, River Basin Center, University of Georgia.
  8. A Review of the Literature on Riparian Buffer Width, Extent and Vegetation, 1999, Seth Wenger, River Basin Center, University of Georgia.