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  Environment » Natural Resources » Land and soil » Erosion » Earthworks - erosion and sediment control

Earthworks - erosion and sediment control

Huntly Section of the Waikato Expressway under construction - April 2016
Huntly section of the Waikato expressway under construction
April 2016

Soil erosion is a natural process where gravity, wind and water wear away the soil surface. This process can be accelerated by activities like quarrying, earthworks construction and subdividing land. Find out how you can reduce your impact.

In the news

Sitelines - spring edition

Read the the most recent issue of Sitelines, our newsletter for earthworks contractors.

Sitelines: stable sites, healthy environment (1.4 MB)

Summer 2017

Construction sites over the past few months have continued to increase and everyone seems to be extremely busy. Taking into account the lost time due to rain, most still seem to be on track! Here’s hoping we still have some summer weather ahead!

Dust is a big issue on construction sites, especially during the late summer and early autumn months. Even with the rain we’ve had this summer, little difference has been made to the moisture content in the ground. As urban residents face water restrictions, it can be frustrating to see earthworks contractors throwing water on the ground to control dust. Dust control needs to be a priority on all sites as it can become a significant health hazard to some people, a Health and Safety issue for those onsite and/or on neighbouring sites. Due to this a few checks should be made to ensure your dust management plan is up to date, and if not to ensure it is updated then submitted for review and approval. Please remember to always consider other options such as keeping the open area to a minimum, stabilise as early as possible, or consider the use of polymers.


The annual awards will be held again around August 2017. Last year WRC asked for nominations and it was great to see the number of highly compliant sites that were submitted into the various award categories. Now is a good time to start thinking about your site, and what you are doing to excel in erosion and sediment control. The categories again this year are;

  • innovative
  • large
  • medium
  • small
  • forestry.

Please note: More categories may be added to reward best practice.


Registrations for our annual erosion and sediment control course dates are open. They fill up fast, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to up-skill in these areas. These courses are a great way to keep up with best practice and the latest developments in the industry, to test your knowledge on the earth works procedures within the region, and further develop your understanding of WRC requirements around erosion and sediment control. There are opportunities to discuss changes in the industry and see new and innovative ways to reduce sedimentation and improve erosion control on sites. While these courses are aimed at civil contractors, they are also extremely useful for those who work on small scale projects. The practical day also includes a site visit to view the erosion and sediment controls being used on working sites. These workshops are of value to any member of an earthworks or construction team. Either as team leaders, foreman and supervisors, site managers, and the general labourer as all are responsible for environmental protection. If you have a number of staff who would like to attend, courses can be run at your workplace. Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss this option.

Please be reminded the Waikato Regional Plan requires that all earthwork sites must have sufficient erosion and sediment controls installed until the site has been stabilised. With a rather changeable autumn season approaching it is important to get as much work done as possible while the weather is fine. Take extra care when wet, as sediment issues can arise tracking onto roads and discharge into waterways. The earthwork season will be ending on April 30th2017, this means if works are to continue beyond 30 April for all consented sites, applications must be submitted for review before the 1st of April. However, if you are not submitting your site for approval, it will need to be closed up and stabilised before this date.

Erosion effects

Each year in the Waikato region, large areas of land are stripped of vegetation or laid bare because of construction or operating of quarries, subdivisions, roads, cleanfills and other developments. Without appropriate erosion and sediment control, these activities can result in accelerated on-site erosion and greatly increased sedimentation of waterways, lakes, estuaries and harbours.

Various studies show earthworks sites may produce 10 to 100 times more sediment yield compared with pastoral land, and 1000 times more compared with permanent forest cover.

Sediment can damage our waterways’ ecology by:

  • modifying or destroying instream, estuarine and coastal values (such as water quality and habitat)
  • affecting aquatic animals and plants due to:
    • smothering
    • changes in food sources
    • interruptions in lifecycles.

These damaging effects often totally change instream communities. Recovery from the impacts of sediment deposition is slow - years rather than months.

As well as ecological changes, sedimentation may:

  • damage water pumps and other structures
  • reduce domestic water quality
  • spoil an area’s appearance
  • affect the spiritual and cultural values that tangata whenua associate with a waterbody.

Best practice Decanting Earth bund - March 2016 (photo taken by Fulton Hogan/HEB Joint Venture)

Image: Best practice Decanting Earth bund - March 2016 (photo taken by Fulton Hogan/HEB Joint Venture)

Resource consents for soil disturbance, roading, tracking and vegetation clearance

A resource consent may be required from the Waikato Regional Council if your activity will involve soil disturbance near streams, lakes, wetlands or coastal waters, or where the works are on steep land.

Consents also may be required for stormwater discharges from these sites. Soil disturbance, roading, tracking or vegetation clearance projects that don’t require consents are called ‘permitted activities’, and these require compliance with specific conditions.

Find out more about resource consents (including application forms), or call the Resource Use Freephone on 0800 800 402.

Guidelines and information

For technical support and access to the spreadsheet to assist in ensuring that sediment retention ponds and culverts are sized correctly, please refer to this webpage (external link) .

Erosion and sediment control guidelines for soil disturbing activities (2009) 

You can download ‘Erosion and Sediment Control – Guidelines for Soil Disturbing Activities’ via the above link. 

Please note the following sections are no longer relevant, and you will need instead to refer to the corresponding fact sheets:

  • 3. Sediment Control Practices
  • 3.1 Sediment Retention Pond
  • 3.2 Silt Fence
  • 3.4 Hay Bale Barrier (these are no longer considered suitable control devices)
  • 3.6  Decanting Earth Bund


Decanting earth bund (181kb)

Sediment retention pond (355kb)

Stabilised construction entrance(64kb)

Small site sediment control

Catchpit protection (146kb)

Concrete and asphalt (193kb)

Silt fence (160kb)

Silt sock / filter log (163kb) - Now includes additional controls

Sediment Control Brochure (external link) - Hamilton City Council

Erosion and sediment control plan preparation guideline

Almost every site will require an erosion and sediment control plan (ESCP).

The guideline below will help you prepare your ESCP. Use these guidelines when planning your earthworks project to develop an erosion and sediment control plan, and to prepare your project’s resource consent application if one is required. Note that granted resource consents will most likely require compliance with these guidelines. The guidelines should be used as best practice on permitted activity sites as well.

Erosion and sediment control plan preparation guideline (1mb)

Image of earthworks at Huntly power station.Winter works guideline

Most resource consents will require works to stop between 30 April and 30 September, unless written approval is obtained from the Waikato Regional Council.

This guideline is to assist you with making your application to continue works through the winter works shut down period.

Winter works application preparation guideline (433kb)

Pre-construction meeting checklist

Most resource consents will require a pre-construction meeting with relevant parties involved in the project.

The checklist below will assist you with topics to discuss and agree upon with the Waikato Regional Council representative prior to commencement of works.

Pre-construction checklist [PDF, 86 KB] - You can edit directly into this PDF (you might need to check or update your software to do this - you'll need Acrobat Reader (external link) ). Make sure you save it out to your desktop before you start editing, if you start editing in the original version on this webpage, your changes won't save.

As-built certification sheets

Most resource consents will require ESCs to have as-builts undertaken, and to be certified that they have been constructed in accordance with the approved ESCP or Waikato Regional Council's erosion and sediment control guidelines

These sheets are to assist you with the information required for the as built certifications.

Download the sheets below:

Sediment retention pond (SRP) (518kb)

Decanting earth bund (DEB) (505kb)

Silt fence / Super silt fence (SF/SSF) (504kb)

Diversion channel / Diversion bund (DC/DB) (521kb)

Workshops and trainingPhoto of best practice demo during ESC workshop day 

The Waikato Regional Council offers workshop training opportunities for the earthworks industry.

Practical erosion and sediment control

A one-day workshop with a practical focus on constructing erosion and sediment controls. This workshop covers best practice erosion and sediment control methods in accordance with the Waikato Regional Council's Erosion and Sediment Control Guidelines, Waikato Regional Plan requirements and legal obligations under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). This workshop also includes a visit to a working site to view controls in the field.

Planning erosion and sediment control

A one-day advanced workshop with a practical focus for preparing erosion and sediment control plans and tips to assist with preparing land use resource consent applications. This workshop will cover the Waikato Regional Plan's rules relating to soil disturbance activities, and will include practical exercises in preparing an erosion and sediment control plan and site risk analysis.

Prerequisite to this workshop: Participants must have previously attended the practical erosion and sediment control workshop or the previous two-day planning erosion and sediment control workshop.

About the facilitator

Peter StevensPeter Stevens - PS Environmental Services Ltd

Peter has 14 years’ experience in erosion and sediment control and resource consents. Since establishing his company in 2006, Peter has worked with a range of clients including regional councils, developers and contractors. Construction projects he’s worked on include subdivisions, state highways, roads, tracks, cleanfills, forestry conversions, hydro-electric power schemes, wind farms, bridges, stream diversions and quarries.

Peter has extensive experience in erosion and sediment control plans, resource consent applications and compliance monitoring, and provides erosion and sediment control training and advice for organisations both in the private and public sectors.


Registrations are now open for this year's workshops. Registrations close 31 May 2017.

Complete an online form, below, to register. When you submit your online registration form, it will be sent directly to:

Erosion and sediment control workshops
Resource Use Directorate, Attn: Nikki Wall
Waikato Regional Council
Private Bag 3038, Waikato Mail Centre, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand
F: +64 7 859 0998

PRACTICAL erosion and sediment control

Date: Wednesday 26 July 2017 - NOW FULLY BOOKED

Time: 7:30am – 5pm

Venue: Hamilton Airport Hotel and Conference Centre, Airport Road, Hamilton



Date: Thursday 27 July 2017

Time: 7:30am – 5pm

Venue: Hamilton Airport Hotel and Conference Centre, Airport Road, Hamilton

Cost: $450 excluding GST



Date: Wednesday 9 August 2017

Time: 8am – 5pm

Venue: Hamilton Airport Hotel and Conference Centre, Airport Road, Hamilton

Cost: $450 excluding GST



PLANNING erosion and sediment control

Date: Thursday 10 August 2017

Time: 8am – 5pm

Venue: Hamilton Airport Hotel and Conference Centre, Airport Road, Hamilton

Cost: $420 excluding GST


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