The South Creek catchment covers an area of 620 square kilometres and represents 30% of the Sydney region. Much of Sydney's urban development is occurring here over the next 20 years.
The ground disturbance caused by this development has resulted in a marked degradation of natural watercourses and land, due to the movement of soil off construction and development sites.
In all council areas, there have been significant concerns regarding the cost of clearing out stormwater drains. For example, Blacktown City Council spends about $600,000 annually to clear debris and sediments from stormwater systems. Improving the erosion and sediment control practices of the construction industry will assist in reducing environmental damage and the expense of correcting it.
To design, develop and implement an education program throughout the catchment to inform builders, subcontractors, developers and council employees about:
- the legal, environmental and social responsibilities of minimising sediment loss
- required on-site erosion and sediment control structures
- community expectations that these structures be provided and maintained
- the availability of environmentally sustainable development options.
This two-stage project built on the positive achievements of earlier projects, particularly through providing greater face-to-face contact with developers, consultants, council staff and builders on construction sites.
The project consisted of:
- construction site audits and seminars for builders, construction personnel and developers
- community awareness days
- advice to council staff on assessing development proposals and enforcing relevant legislation.
Methodology and tools
Audits of 600 dwelling and larger development sites determined how often best management practices in erosion and sediment control were being applied on construction sites. Project managers and site supervisors (Stage 1) and developers (Stage 2) were targeted.
On-site meetings provided individual advice and feedback to help construction staff decide how materials could be most sustainably delivered and located. Model sites in each local government area meant people could observe:
- best management practice in erosion and sediment control
- effective installation methods for control devices such as sediment fences and driveway controls.
The following events were held at these sites:
- meetings attended by 120 industry representatives
- industry sector training for builders and tradespeople, delivered at breakfast sessions
- information sessions for developers.
Educational material provided:
- practical examples of best management practice at construction sites
- information for developers about environmental issues that should be considered at the development's planning, design approval and construction stages.
Community awareness days included information booths at local key environmental focal points and environmental surveys to establish community action groups.
Council staff were advised on processing development applications and carrying out 'field' enforcement of the provisions of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act).
The project was evaluated by the Department of Land and Water Conservation which audited 118 single dwelling house construction sites throughout the catchment during October 2000.
To provide long-term momentum for the project the following information resources were developed:
- Guidelines for Erosion and Sediment Control on Building Sites (GuidelinesforErosionandSedimentControl.pdf) (Site Supervisor's Manual)
- best management practice guidelines for council planners, developers and consultants
- a revised sitewise audit sheet for small, domestic sites
- a training video for building and construction personnel
- a Powerpoint presentation for council planners, developers and consultants
- sediment fence warning signs
- brochures and posters for construction sites, developers and community notice boards
- promotional materials: caps, T-shirts, stickers, car door magnets and banners.
- Change in awareness of builders and developers of the importance of erosion and sediment control best management practice, including thinking through the delivery and placement of materials on their sites (after the program 71% of all sites had good sediment fences and 91% had good driveway controls).
- Improved water quality downstream of greenfield subdivision and development sites.
- Improved commitment by building contractors in maintaining control devices during the period of construction.
- Improved developer awareness of environmental issues relating to sustainable development.
- The project has been the subject of several conference presentations.
When working with the building industry, if your project schedule includes the Christmas/New Year period, include six weeks off for annual and public holidays.
Project resources and further information
Blacktown Council (02) 9839 6000
Council of the City of Penrith (02) 4732 7777
Hawkesbury City Council (02) 4560 4444
Liverpool City Council (02) 9821 9222
Stage 2 grant details
Stage 3 grant details