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The wet season has arrived and with that comes a builder’s duty of care to ensure that appropriate erosion and sediment control measures have been put in place at any building and construction site under their management.

Erosion and sedimentation can cause water contamination which can pose a threat to the environment and, therefore, builders and developers have obligations by law to prevent contaminants being released or deposited.

As advised by the Environmental Protection Act 1994, the following prescribed contaminants must not be released or deposited into roadside gutters, stormwater drains and waterways from building sites:

  • Ashes, clay, gravel, sediment, stones and similar organic or inorganic matter;
  • Building and construction materials, including bitumen, brick, cement, concrete and plaster;
  • Building, construction and demolition waste, including bitumen, brick, concrete cuttings, plaster and waste water generated by building, construction or demolition;
  • Earth – meaning, sand, soil, silt or mud;
  • Liquid containing suspended or dissolved solids;
  • Glass, metal parts, paper, piping, plastic and scrap metal;
  • Paint, paint scrapings or residues, paint sludge, water used for diluting paint or washing painting utensils, and waste from paint stripping.

What builders and developers need to do to be compliant:

  • Install and maintain sediment fences to control runoff;
  • Place gravel sausages to reduce material entering stormwater drains;
  • Install waste containers on site by using geotextiles and rope to enclose waste.

Building and construction sites should also be adequately protected from storm events by ensuring that at the end of each workday sites are secure and any potential airborne materials are secured or removed.

It is important to keep erosion and sediment control measures in place and be aware that penalties may apply if you are not compliant.  For more information: www.cairns.qld.gov.au/environment/environmental-protection/building-and-industry or contact the Council’s Development Services Team on (07) 4044 3514.

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