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All projects on campus that remove ground cover and expose soil must follow erosion and sedimentation control (ESC) best management practices as required by the North Carolina Sedimentation Control Act of 1973 and the US Clean Water Act.

Guidance Documents


All projects must design and install their ESC measures per North Carolina State Standards located in the NC DEQ Erosion and Sediment Control Planning and Design Manual. When designing sediment traps, basins, and diversion ditches, make sure to incorporate design guidance from the NC State Cooperative Extension.
Projects smaller than 0.1 acre (4,356 square feet) do not require a written ESC plan; however, projects must be managed to prevent sediment from leaving the site through storm drains or by being tracked offsite by equipment. These projects must adhere to the Stormwater Requirements for Small Construction Projects. Non-compliant sites will be required to immediately develop a corrective action plan.
Projects greater than 0.1 acre (4,356 square feet) and less than 0.8 acre (34,848 square feet) must submit an ESC plan to the Department of Environment, Health and Safety, Environmental Affairs section. The ESC plan must meet all of the requirements of the Guidelines for Construction Projects and must be approved by EHS before the start of construction.
UNC requires projects with areas exceeding 0.8 acres to obtain an Erosion and Sedimentation Control Permit from the NC Department of Environmental Quality, Land Quality Section. While the NCDEQ limit is one acre, UNC projects exceeding 0.8 acre must scale up the project limits to exceed the one acre threshold requiring a permit. This policy exists because projects commonly expand the project limits once the project is started, which creates the risk of a stop work order until an ESC permit is acquired.

The ESC Plan must meet all of the requirements of the Guidelines for Construction Projects. Once DEQ issues the permit, the project will be required to follow all conditions of the NC NPDES General Permit NCG 010000. The permit must be kept onsite at all times throughout the duration of the construction project.

ESC Permit Flowchart
ESC Permit Flowchart

When Should the Project Manager Contact EHS?

The project manager should involve EHS Environmental Affairs early in the design process. EHS will verify the project area to determine whether an ESC permit will be required, and will work with the project manager and designer to ensure that the ESC plan development and review process flows seamlessly.

UNC vs. Non-UNC Projects

All construction or land-disturbing projects that will be located on UNC-Chapel Hill property are subject to UNC-Chapel Hill’s ESC requirements, regardless of the size of the project or the organization financing the construction.

Construction Contractor, Fuel and Oil Management

In addition to the ESC plan, contractors working on UNC construction projects must adhere to theSpill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan Construction Site Guidelines for management of all fuel or oil in containers 55 gallons or greater in size.

Examples of Land Disturbing Activities Requiring ESC Plan and/or Permit

  • Typical construction project
  • Removing asphalt and/or concrete
  • Synthetic turf field replacement
  • Trenching for utility installation or removal
  • Building demolition
  • Outdoor staging for an interior construction project


Contact Janet Clarke at 919-843-0475 or
Post-construction stormwater management and stormwater drainage design are managed by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Energy Services department. UNC-Chapel Hill is subject to requirements from our NPDES MS4 permit, the Jordan Lake Rules, the Town of Chapel Hill and other local governments.

UNC-Chapel Hill’s guidelines reference the statewide Stormwater Design Manual and provide more detailed requirements for implementation. Designers should note that since 2011, UNC is subject to the State and Federal Entities New Development rules for Jordan Lake. These are perhaps the most stringent water quality rules in the state of North Carolina.

The requirements are part of the University Design Guidelines.


Contact Janet Clarke at 919-843-0475 or

Environmental Assessment/Finding of No Significant Impact (EA/FONSI) Process

Wetlands and Streams

Wetlands and streams that may be impacted by projects need to be delineated and permitted. Contact Environment, Health and Safety for more information about delineation and permitting on campus. This includes a requirement that UNC-Chapel Hill staff accompany the consultant on visits in conjunction with the regulators. Also, see the websites for the US Army Corps of Engineers and the NC Department of Environmental Air Quality 401 Wetlands and Buffer Permitting Program.

NCDEQ Jordan Lake Stream Buffer Regulations

As a State entity, UNC-Chapel Hill is subject to the Jordan Lake Stream Buffer rules as implemented by NCDEQ.

Town of Chapel Hill Stream Buffer Regulations

The Town of Chapel Hill has stream buffer requirements that are more stringent than DEQ’s requirements.  These buffer requirements are part of the Town’s Resource Conservation District (RCD).

Town of Carrboro Stream Buffer Regulations

The Town of Carrboro’s stream buffer regulations are applicable to all University projects within Carrboro’s boundaries.  These can be found in the Town’s Land Use Ordinance, Article XVI.


Contact Janet Clarke at 919-843-0475 or