Erosion and Sediment Control


The water quality functions of erosion and sediment control BMPs result from diversion of surface runoff treatment areas (e.g., using terracing, berms, or swales), reducing water velocity (e.g., using check dams), filtration (e.g., by silt fences), and by removing suspended particle via settling or infiltration. Grasses are often planted on exposed soils, sometimes stabilized with nets or mats, to reduce erosion and in swales to reduce velocity by increasing roughness of the surface.

Initiation protocol:

Many erosion control practices are available in local soil and water conservation district offices. Conservation practices that provide immediate permanent cover (sod) or provide intermittent cover (mulches and permanent seeding) drastically reduce soil losses and runoff.

Public acceptance:

Widely accepted and required for disturbances over 5,000 square feet.

Implementation Factors (level of difficulty):

Easy to Moderate. Preventing soil-related problems before they occur is easier and more cost effective than correcting them later.

Funding Sources / Options:

A developer or land owner typically carries the cost of regulated practices on construction sites.


Costs estimated as $ per impervious acre treated.

Cost Estimates EPA King & Hagan Average
Initial $26,000 $26,000 $26,000
Annual $- $10 $5
Lifespan (yrs) 20 20 20
Annualized $1,300 $1,310 $1,305

Notes: King & Hagan figures are expressed in units of “impervious acres treated.” To convert to urban acres treated, this analysis uses a factor of 0.25, based on two assumptions: (1) there are three acres of pervious land for every acre of impervious and (2) the additional volume required for pervious treatment is minimal.

Load Reduction Efficiency:

Total Nitrogen removed per acre treated per year


4.22 lbs.


5.14 lbs.


15.87 lbs.

Cost per pound removed = between $82 and $309

Total Phosphorous removed per acre treated per year


1.43 lbs.


2.04 lbs.


4.15 lbs.

  Cost per pound removed = between $314 and $911

Total Suspended Solids removed per acre treated per year


659 lbs.


1,339 lbs.


4,415 lbs.

Cost per pound removed = between $0.30 and $1.98

Operation & Maintenance:

State regulations require daily inspection of certain erosion and sediment control practices. Careful inspection is suggested before and after a storm event to ensure practices are in proper working condition.

Climate Change Considerations:



Feedback on This Best Practice

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Related Best Management Practices