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Water and Sediment Control Basin

Photo example of a water and sediment control basinA water and sediment control basin is a short earthen dam built across a drainageway where a terrace is impractical.  It is usually part of a terrace system. It traps water and sediment running off cropland upslope from the structure, and reduces gully erosion by controlling flow within the drainage area. The basin releases water slowly, usually through infiltration or a pipe outlet and tile line. Basins can be effective in reducing sedimentation of nearby waters, especially in areas where residue management or other practices are impractical.

How it helps...

  • Basins improve water quality by trapping sediment on uplands and preventing it from reaching water bodies
  • Structures reduce gully erosion by controlling water flow within a drainage area
  • Grass cover may provide habitat for wildlife


  • Soil Erosion
  • Water Quality
  • Wildlife


  • The area draining to the basin is usually not larger than 30 acres.
  • The basin should be large enough to control runoff from the 10-year, 24-hour storm.
  • Some sites are too steep for a basin to work effectively.
  • Location (and spacing of multiple basins) depends on slope, tillage and crop management; NRCS can provide advice.
  • Erosion control practices are needed upslope to prevent excess sedimentation.
  • The fill material used to construct the embankment should be free of debris such as sod, roots, large stones, etc. and be well compacted.
  • Reseed and fertilize as needed to maintain vegetation.
  • Check the basin after large storms to determine the need for sediment removal. Make needed repairs to the embankment.