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Erosion & Sedimentation Control

The Erosion and Sedimentation Control division includes plan review, permits, and site inspections for land disturbance of more than one acre, including those under a common plan of development. Land disturbing activity includes grading for construction, businesses, roadways, etc. For more information, check the Frequently Asked Questions or call/email Toni Norton.

Frequently Asked Questions

Stormwater Runoff is rainfall that flows over the ground surface. It is created when rain falls on roads, driveways, parking lots, rooftops, and other paved surfaces that do not allow water to soak into the ground. Stormwater runoff is the number one cause of stream impairment in urban areas.

For sites disturbing one acre or more and/or sites disturbing multiple lots in the same subdivision (Large Sites): Developers are required to submit plans and obtain an Erosion Control Permit.

For sites disturbing less than one acre (Small Sites): Builders are required to obtain a Small Site Erosion Control Permit.

Engineers, Landscape Architects, or Someone knowledgeable about the NC State design manual for Erosion Control could design an erosion control plan specific to your site. Click here for a helpful plan checklist.

Any grading, landscaping, land clearing, or other activity that moves soils is considered ‘disturbing’.


You may use the How much ground am I disturbing? tool to calculate the acreage being disturbed by your project, or you may contact the Erosion and Sedimentation Control Office at 828-465-8161 for assistance in calculating the acreage, and give you a brief step-by-step overview of the process.

For sites disturbing less than one acre (Small Sites):

  • Complete a Small Site Erosion Control Permit Application and a State-required Financial Responsibility/Ownership Form. A $50 small site erosion control fee will be collected for the permit.
  • Submit your forms and payment in person at the following Permit Center Location:

Catawba County Government
Permit Center
25 Government Drive
Newton, NC 28658
Phone: (828) 465-8399

  • You may pay your project management fee using cash, check, or debit card/credit card (Visa or MasterCard) over the phone or directly at the Permit Center location.

For sites disturbing one acre or more and/or sites disturbing multiple lots in the same subdivision (Large Sites):

  • Before beginning a grading project, submit your plans (click here for a helpful plan checklist) and complete a State-required Financial Responsibility/Ownership Form. Take three (3) sets of plans and one (1) set of calculations to one of our two locations and make your payment at the Permit Center in Newton or over the phone.
  • When your project is ready for permitting, an Erosion Control Permit Application will need to be filled out and signed.
  • A $200 plan review fee, which includes the first acre disturbed, will be collected when you drop off your plans. In addition to the $200 fee, a $150 per additional acre of disturbed area will be collected, as listed on the fee schedule.
  • No additional fee is charged for the permit.

Before beginning a grading project, we recommend that you take the following steps:

  • Calculate the acreage being disturbed by your project using the How much ground am I disturbing? tool.
  • When you have your plans ready to submit (click here for a helpful plan checklist), you will need to complete a State required Financial Responsibility/Ownership Form.
  • After completing the Financial Responsibility form, take three (3) sets of plans and one (1) set of calculations to one of the two locations:
    • Catawba County Government
      (For Plans drop off and payments)
      Permit Center
      25 Government Drive
      Newton, NC 28658
      Phone: (828) 465-8399
    • Hickory City Hall
      (Plans drop off box ONLY)
      Zoning Office
      76 North Center Hall
      Hickory, NC 28601
      Phone: (828) 465-8399
  • You may pay your plan review fee using cash, check, or debit card/credit card (Visa or MasterCard) over the phone or directly in the Permit Center Location.
  • When your plans are dropped off at the Permit Center, you will be given your plan case number, a receipt for payment, and instructions on how you may use our online permit center to monitor the progress of your plans. We will be glad to show you how to use this system if you need help.
  • Once plans are approved a pre-construction meeting will be scheduled on-site prior to starting the project. This meeting should be attended by the owner, general contractor, grading contractor, subcontractors, and/or others associated with the project or job site throughout the construction.

For sites disturbing less than one acre (Small Sites): A $50 project management fee will be collected when you submit your Small Site Erosion Control Permit application.

For sites disturbing one acre or more and/or sites disturbing multiple lots in the same subdivision (Large Sites):

  • A $200 plan review fee, which includes the first acre disturbed, will be collected when you drop off your plans.
  • In addition to the $200 fee, a $150 per additional acre of disturbed area will be collected when you drop off your plans, as listed on the fee schedule.
  • You may contact Toni Norton at 828-465-8161 to assist you with calculating the fee for your project.
  • If you need help in calculating what your fee will be, check the following examples:
    • 10-acre:
      If you have a 10-acre disturbance, you would pay the $200 plan review fee + $150 times the 9-acres remaining ($1,350) for a total of $1,550.
    • 4.5-acre:
      If you have a 4.5-acre disturbance, you would pay the $200 plan review fee + $150 times the 4-acres remaining ($600) for a total of $800.
    • 1-acre:
      If you were disturbing exactly 1-acre, you would pay the $200 plan review fee only.

After you get the necessary plan review approval, you will be ready to get your Erosion Control Permit. You will be contacted by phone and/or mail that your plans are ready for permitting by the erosion control plan review officer or other staff. The Financially Responsible Party will be contacted in writing if listed differently from the Owner on the State required form.

Please report any mud leaving a construction site to Toni Norton at 828-465-8161 and specify the location of the erosion problem. If a violation is found and documented, a Notice of Violation (NOV) will be imposed on the site.

  • If a LARGE (sites disturbing over one acre or more or a multi-lot disturbance in the same development) construction site is out of compliance and receives a Notice of Violation, the project may not have any activity, i.e. building inspections, until the NOV re-inspection fine is paid to the Catawba County Finance Department. Fines and re-inspection fees must be paid by cash or check.
  • If a SMALL (sites disturbing less than one acre) construction site is out of compliance and receives a Notice of Violation, the site must remediate non-compliance issues within the 2-week period provided. However, if the site continues to be in violation after such deadline, the site will be suspended from any activity (i.e. building inspections) until the site meets full compliance by the specified date in the NOV letter. At this point, if site NOV issues continue without fully being addressed, the site will continue to be suspended from any activity, and fines will be issued. Fines must be paid by cash or check.

Buffers are natural areas of vegetation that are adjacent to natural watercourses (ex: streams, lakes, rivers, wetlands, etc.). Land disturbing activities near lakes or natural watercourses have buffer zone requirements, and the County's Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Council Ordinance provides information on how buffers are measured.

  • Throughout all of the County, visible siltation must be kept within the 25% of the buffer zone nearest the land-disturbing activity.
  • Within the majority of Catawba County, a standard 25-foot buffer is required for the majority of land disturbances taking place near lakes or watercourses. Visible siltation can occur within the first 6 feet of the 25-foot buffer (see details here).
  • Within the Sherrill's Ford Sewershed the buffer requirement is 50 feet (Ch. 31 Sec. 31.8 (c)), so visible sedimentation is limited to the first 12.5 feet.