5 May 2022

Builders advised to 'Get the Site Right' ahead of Goulburn Mulwaree compliance blitz

| Claire Fenwicke
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Developers looking at a site

Builders and developers in the Goulburn Mulwaree council region are being told they must make sure they ‘Get the Site Right’. Photo: NSW EPA.

The Goulburn Mulwaree region has been included in the expansion of an education and compliance program focusing on erosion and sediment control at building and construction sites.

The area’s inclusion in the ‘Get the Site Right’ campaign, which is being expanded outside of Sydney for the first time, follows some recent building site erosion issues.

A Goulburn Mulwaree Council spokesman said compliance with sediment and erosion controls at local sites was good “in general”.

“Most builders and developers in Goulburn Mulwaree are proactive in controlling their sites, which ensures good outcomes,” he said.

“A particularly wet 12 months has made things more difficult across construction sites, but in general we are pleased with the efforts by our builders and developers.

“We look forward to proactively working with the building community in May to ensure good outcomes on our construction sites for all.”

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The Parramatta River Catchment Group first launched the ‘Get the Site Right’ campaign in 2016 to educate builders and developers on best practice erosion and sediment controls and highlight the impact of sediment-laden runoff on waterways and wildlife.

The task force now involves the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Department of Planning and Environment, Cooks River Alliance, Georges Riverkeeper, Sydney Coastal Councils Group and more than 20 Sydney councils.

Along with Goulburn Mulwaree, the campaign is also being expanded into the Blue Mountains, Fairfield, Lithgow, Shellharbour and Wollongong Councils and state-owned corporation WaterNSW.

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Runoff from building sites and developments often contains cement, sand and soil, which can contaminate waterways and cause harmful algae blooms.

NSW EPA director of operations James Goodwin said the discolouration and pollution of many of the state’s waterways following heavy rains this year highlighted what can happen when significant amounts of soil, litter and other waste enter our waterways.

“Studies by the EPA show a large building site can lose up to four truckloads of soil in a single storm,” Mr Goodwin said.

“By ensuring proper controls are in place on their sites, builders and developers play an important role in protecting our waterways and marine life from the harmful effects of sediment runoff.

“They can also avoid costly building materials being washed away.”

Builders and developers are legally obligated to install erosion and control measures, with fines from $8000 to $15,000 issuable for each pollution event at a site.

Ways to prevent runoff from leaving building sites include:

  • leaving as much vegetation on the site and street verge as possible during construction
  • establishing a single, stabilised entry and exit point to prevent tracking of sediment off the site
  • installing sediment fencing correctly along the low side of the site, using geotextile material
  • diverting stormwater around the worksite
  • connecting downpipes from the guttering to the stormwater drain as soon as the roof is installed
  • covering stockpiles from rain and wind
  • sweeping the footpath and road every day, and never hosing sediment into the gutter or stormwater drain

The ‘Get the Site Right’ campaign will run throughout May, with a one-day inspection blitz on Thursday 19 May.

A follow-up inspection blitz will be held in October.

Members of the public are encouraged to report pollution incidents from worksites, including poor sediment control, to their local council or the NSW EPA’s 24/7 Environment Line on 131 555.

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