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Water and Sediment Control Basin

Water and Sediment Control Basin








A short earthen dam built across a drainageway where a terrace is impractical; usually part of a terrace system.

How it works

This is an embankment built across a depressional area of concentrated water runoff. It traps sediment and water running off farmland above the structure, preventing it from reaching farmland and water bodies below.

How it helps

  • Improves ability to farm on sloping lands
  • Improves water quality by trapping sediment on uplands and preventing it from reaching water bodies
  • Reduces gully erosion by controlling water flow within a drainage area
  • May provide cover for small birds and animals

Planning ahead

  • Will basins be part of an existing terrace system?
  • Is the site too steep for the basin to work properly or be economically feasible?
  • Can adequate outlets be provided?

Technical notes

  • Install a tile or infiltration outlet adequate for high runoffs.
  • The uncontrolled area draining into the basin must not exceed 50 acres.
  • Build the basin large enough to control peak runoffs and sediment loads without overtopping.
  • Use fill material free of sod, roots, frozen materials and stones larger than six inches in diameter. It should have correct moisture content for compaction.
  • Spacing for water and sediment control basins depends on the land slope, tillage and management system. Plan structures so that failure will not result in loss of life, interruption of public utilities, or damage to homes, commercial buildings, highways or railroads.


  • Inspect spillway and outlet yearly.
  • Remove accumulated sediment and debris on a regular basis.
  • Reseed and fertilize as needed to maintain vegetative cover.
  • Check the basin after each large storm and make repairs.