Skip Navigation

Conservation Choices: Water and Sediment Control Basin

Water and Sediment Control Basin
Water and Sediment Control Basin

What it is

An earth embankment or a combination ridge and channel constructed across the slope of minor watercourses to form a sediment trap and water detention basin with a stable outlet.

How it helps

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

Planning ahead

  • Is the site too steep for the basin to work properly or be economically feasible?
  • Will the basin be part of an existing terrace system?
  • Is sheet and rill erosion controlled by another conservation practice?
  • Can adequate outlets be provided?

Tech Notes

  • The uncontrolled area draining into the basin must not exceed 50 acres.
  • Build the basin large enough to control runoff from a 10-year storm without overtopping.
  • Install an outlet that will convey water to a point where it will not cause damage.
  • Use fill material free of sod, roots, frozen materials, and stone larger than six inches in diameter. It should also have correct moisture content for adequate compaction.
  • Spacing for water and sediment control basins depends on the land slope, tillage and management system.


  • Re-seed and fertilize as needed to maintain vegetative cover.
  • Check the basin after each large storm and make any needed repairs.
  • Inspect the outlet to ensure it is not damaged or plugged. Repair any damaged parts and remove trash buildup around the inlet.

Iowa Practice Standard