Improving erosion and sediment control on building sites

Get the Site Right is a joint taskforce between the Parramatta River Catchment Group, Cooks River Alliance, Georges Riverkeeper, Sydney Coastal Councils Group, Lake Macquarie Council, NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), and Department of Planning and Environment, and many Sydney councils, including Georges Riverkeeper member Councils. We are working together to target developers and enforce best practice on commercial and residential building sites, as well as major infrastructure projects, to protect our waterways and surrounding environments.

May 2021 Blitz!

Builders and renovators should be advised that local councils, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and DPIE are conducting a month-long Get the Site Right education and compliance campaign during May, targeting erosion and sediment controls on building sites. A follow-up one-day inspection blitz of building sites across Sydney and the Hunter Coast will be held on Thursday, 20 May 2021. Councils participating in the Georges River catchment include Bayside Council, Georges River Council, City of Canterbury Bankstown, Campbelltown City Council, Liverpool City Council, Sutherland Shire Council and Wollondilly Shire. Get the Site Right, or you will be fined!

Why should you care about erosion and sediment control on building sites?

The suburbs around Sydney’s waterways are booming. Our growing population and need for more housing, schools, roads and other amenities has seen a rise in new residential and commercial developments and construction, as well as increased public expectation for a quality, local waterway which we can safely use for leisure activities.

Did you know that up to four truckloads of soil from a building site can be washed away in a single storm if not properly contained? If sediment such as soil, sand, dirt and mud are not properly managed on building sites they can directly pollute our river and cause severe environmental problems, making it less safe for people to use.

How sediment spills affect our environment and waterways:

  • Directly pollutes our creeks, river and harbours by filling them with dirt, soil, sand and mud. This leads to poorer water quality, affecting swimming or leisure activities in and around our waterways.
  • Destroys aquatic habitats and smothers native plants and animals that live our waterways.
  • Blocks stormwater drains leading to flooding and overflows.
  • Erodes creek and river banks.
  • Causes health and safety risks such as slippery roads and tripping hazards.

Follow the rules

There are rules that developers need to follow to contain and manage sediment on their work site in a responsible manner. It is against the law to breach these rules. Local councils and the NSW Environment Protection Authority have the power to issue penalties from $8000 to $15,000 for each incident.

Home builders and renovators

If you are building or renovating a home, submission of an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan is required before works begin. Ensure your builders are adhering to the rules. For more information, click here or contact your local council or the NSW Environment Protection Authority for further consultation.

Developers and builders

If you are a developer or managing a building site, download a quick summary of the facts or consult the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage’s ‘Blue Book’ for detailed rules and guidelines.

YouTube Video

Sediment runoff can be reduced and prevented to give us cleaner, safer, and more scenic creeks, rivers and other waterways. This short webinar, which was prepared for Council staff participating in the campaign, explains the environmental impacts of sediment runoff on our waterways, and why we must ensure building and construction sites have effective erosion and sediment controls in place.


See a site that’s not right? Report any issues to your local council or contact the NSW Environment Line on 131 555.

YouTube Video

'Get the Site Right' awareness campaign video.


On Wednesday, 21 October 2020, 19 participating councils (including Campbelltown City Council, City of Canterbury Bankstown, Georges River Council, Liverpool City Council and Sutherland Shire Council), NSW EPA and DPIE patrolled building sites across Sydney and the Hunter Coast as part of a one-day inspection blitz. Here are the results: 596 sites visited, 74% compliant, 26% non-compliant, and total fines $97,897.

While these improvements are encouraging, regular and targeted inspections and education are necessary if we are to achieve long-term and sustainable reduction in runoff and improvements to the health of our waterways.