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Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Overview

Stormwater runoff can cause soil erosion which creates sediment deposits that negatively impacts the water quality of District rivers and streams. In the District of Columbia, a soil Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) plan is required as part of the building permit process for construction and redevelopment projects that clear, grade, or in any way disturb more than 50 square feet of the earth's surface. The purpose of this plan is to minimize erosion and to prevent sediment pollution from entering the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, their tributaries, and the District's sewer system. The ESC plan shows the site's existing topography, indicates how it will be altered, identifies the control measures that will be installed, and describes how and when these controls will be implemented and maintained. DOEE specifications and details for ESC measures are located in the ESC Manual.

Land-disturbing activity is defined as the “movement of earth, land, or sediment that disturbs the land surface and the related use of pervious land to support that movement. Land-disturbing activity includes stripping, grading, grubbing, trenching, excavating, transporting, and filling of land, as well as the use of pervious adjacent land for movement and storage of construction vehicles and materials. Land-disturbing activity does not include repaving or remilling that does not expose the underlying soil” (Title 21 DCMR §599, 2020). See the full regulation.

Non-Major Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) Plan Review Submission Process

You must use the Surface and Groundwater System (SGS) to submit project information to DOEE as part of its ESC plan review process. DOEE will only review plans that have been submitted in the SGS. The process below is for submitting ESC plans which disturb less than 5,000 square feet of land, and do not require stormwater management or Green Area Ratio (GAR) plan review.

  1. Complete the building application to Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). You must have a DCRA permit application number and project submitted in ProjectDox for the project to be assigned.
  2. Upload the complete ESC set as a single PDF file to the Supporting Documents folder of ProjectDox to act as a placeholder. Do not upload individual ESC sheets to the Drawings folder.
  3. Create a DOEE SGS user account (if none currently exists). Instructions for creating an account and submitting to the SGS are also available. Note it may take a day for a new user account to be approved before a new project can be created. Note it may take a day for a new user account to be approved before a new project can be created.
  4. Enter the address, project area, owner, and architect/engineer/land surveyor information, and DCRA permit number. Upload ESC plan sets as a single PDF to DOEE’s SGS. Click the “Submit” button. Projects are not added to the reviewer’s queue until the “Submit” button is pressed on the project page. The ESC plans will be reviewed, commented upon, and approved in the SGS. DOEE reviews the ESC plan to determine if the project meets DOEE’s requirements. The plan reviewer will respond with comments within the time period determined by DCRA’s Job Classification System.
  5. If revisions are required, comments are uploaded to the Documents section of the SGS by the DOEE reviewer. An email notification will be sent to the applicant, agent, and engineer/architect/surveyor when the reviewer returns the project.
  6. The applicant will upload a clean, revised ESC plan, along with a comment response letter, to the SGS to address all comments uploaded by DOEE. The next review cycle begins when the project is fully submitted in the SGS. The project will not return to the reviewer’s queue until the “Submit” button is pressed on the project page.
  7. Repeat steps 5-6 until no additional revisions are required and the plan is ready for approval. Upload the final plan set to the SGS for approval, initial and final fee issuance, and electronic stamping. All applicable stamps will be applied on the final packet. Instructions for DOEE Electronic Approval Stamping are available on the SGS landing page under “Instructions.” All applicable stamps will be applied on the final packet.
  8. Pay all DOEE fees online through the SGS. See the list of fees.
  9. Once the fees are paid, the approved, stamped ESC plan is available to download from the SGS, and DOEE can clear its review in ProjectDox.

Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) Plan Walkthrough Review Process

Effective June 1, 2016, DOEE will no longer accept walkthrough plans that have not yet been submitted through the Surface and Groundwater System (SGS). Projects which meet DCRA’s criteria for walkthrough review are eligible for DOEE walkthrough review. Projects with a stormwater management or GAR plan review requirement are not eligible for walkthrough review.

  1. Follow the steps from DCRA’s Digital Walk-Through Process.
  2. Create a SGS account (if none currently exists). Instructions for creating an account and submitting to the SGS are also available. Note it may take a day for a new user account to be approved before a new project can be created.
  3. Enter the site, project, owner, and engineer information, and upload ESC plans to DOEE’s SGS.
  4. The ESC plan will be reviewed and approved same day by the assigned DOEE reviewer (pending completeness). The DOEE reviewer will also issue review fees and stamp the ESC plan once the fees are paid.
  5. Pay all DOEE fees online through the SGS. See the list of fees.
  6. Once the fees are paid, the approved, stamped ESC plan is available to download from the SGS, and DOEE can clear its review in ProjectDox.

Inspection Requirement for Projects Requiring Erosion and Sediment Control Plans

All construction projects requiring soil Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) plans must schedule a DOEE inspection after the permit has been approved and before any land disturbing activity begins. A final ESC construction inspection must occur before ESC control measures are removed from the project site. Visit Construction Site Inspection for instructions on scheduling an inspection.

Signage Requirement for Projects Requiring Erosion and Sediment Control Plans

All construction projects requiring soil Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) plans must post a District-approved sign that notifies the public to contact the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) in the event of erosion or other pollution from the site. This signage requirement will help to protect the District’s natural resources by identifying and correcting sites that are causing erosion and/or discharging sediment to local waterbodies. This is a requirement of the 2020 Rule on Stormwater Management and Soil Erosion and Sediment Control (2020 SW Rule) which calls for the prominent posting of a sign that:

  1. Is in plain view of and readable by the public at a distance of twelve feet (12 ft);
  2. Placed at each entrance to the site or as directed by DOEE; and
  3. Provides contact information identified by the Department, including phone number, e-mail address, and 311 mobile app.

Key Documents

Download and print your sign attached below.

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