Sediment Pollution and Solutions

See below to learn simple ways you can help prevent sediment from running off your yard, work site or farm and getting into our streams, rivers and drinking water reservoirs!

Table of Contents

      For Homeowners

      Cover bare dirt in your yard!

      When soil is exposed, rain carries sediment into streams.

      Mulch and plants keep soil in place, so water stays clear.

      Ways to keep yard soil covered:

      Need more ideas on what to plant?

      Native plants and grasses are hardier and keep soil in place better than non-native plants. Click here to go to the NC State Extension Native Plant Toolbox to find what works for you.

      You can also check out this article on CWEP’s website to learn more about “The importance of native plants”.

      For Contractors

      Implementation of Sediment Stormwater Control Measures (SCMs)


      • Stormwater: The water that runs off hard surfaces like roofs, roads, or sidewalks when it rains. Stormwater runoff is not treated before it flows to creeks, lakes and rivers. 
      • SCM: Stormwater Control Measure. Permanent structural devices that are designed, constructed, and maintained to remove pollutants like sediment and nutrients from stormwater runoff before it reaches our waterways like streams and reservoirs.
      • Sediment: Loose particles of sand, silt and clay that settle on the bottom of rivers, lakes, estuaries and ocean (EPA 2022).
      • Erosion: The wearing away of the land surface by wind or water (EPA 2010).
      • Riparian Buffer: An unmowed strip of grass, shrubs or trees on either side of a stream that helps filter runoff and pollution before it reaches the stream. 


      Silt fences are securely fashioned to poles and maintain the entire perimeter of construction.
      This filter sock is secured and covers the entire opening of the storm drain.


      This broken silt fence has collapsed and is ineffective at containing exposed soil during a rain event.
      This silt fence has not been maintained and the fabric is not held up properly between the posts.
      This filter sock needs to be maintained and is at risk of falling further into the storm drain.
      This berm/filter sock has fallen inside the storm drain and is not in the correct position to catch sediment as it was designed to.

      For Farmers

      Leave vegetation next to streams to create a “riparian buffer” or areas where plants can root and hold down soil to prevent erosion.

      Fence cattle out of streams, install alternative watering sources and create stable livestock crossing areas to reduce sediment and erosion in waterways.

      Learn more about stormwater runoff!

      Contact your city, town or county stormwater or sediment and erosion control department with questions specific to your area!