V. Soil and Erosion Control in Patterson

What is soil erosion and why is it so important? Soil erosion begins with rainfall. We become so accustomed to the rain we don't realize how much force is in a single raindrop. But when a rain drop impacts the soil surface, it does so with enough force to dislodge and begin breaking the soil particles into much smaller pieces which are much easier to move. When a sufficient amount of rainfall has accumulated on the ground's surface it begins to move downhill. The more rainfall, and the steeper the hill, the faster the rainfall will flow over the surface. The rainfall or storm water moving over the surface of the land picks up those tiny particles of soil and nutrients and carries them down the hill. The faster the storm water is flowing (its velocity), the more energy it has to carry particles of soil and nutrients. Storm water runoff will continue to carry these particles of soil until its velocity is slowed, at which time most of the particles fall out of the storm water and are left behind. This is called soil erosion. Unfortunately, the soil particles are usually left behind in the most inappropriate places like stream bottoms or lakes.

To help prevent soil erosion, in February of 2002 the Town of Patterson adopted a Soil Erosion Control Law aimed at protecting property owners from uncontrolled erosion. The Law requires that an individual obtain a permit prior to commencing any of a number of activities.

Activities That Require Permits
  • Site preparation on slopes which exceed one (1) foot of vertical rise to four (4) feet of horizontal distance (twenty percent (20%)) or site preparation in soils known to be subject to severe erosion, based upon the rating given to individual soil types by the USDA Soil Conservation Service.
  • Site preparation within the one-hundred-year flood-plain of any watercourse.
  • Excavation which affects more than four hundred (400) cubic yards of material within any parcel.
  • Soil stripping or clear cutting which affects:

    a. an area exceeding 20,000 square feet of contiguous ground surface; or
    b. one or more areas that in total exceeding 40,000 square feet on any individual parcel; or
    c. the minimum lot area permitted under current Zoning Regulations when less than one-half (.5) acre.

  • Grading which affects more than 20,000 square feet of ground surface within any parcel.
  • Filling which exceeds a total of two hundred (200) cubic yards of material within any parcel.
  • A development or subdivision of two (2) or more units or any development or subdivision.
  • Activities associated with any site plan application.

There are certain practices which you as a homeowner can do to help reduce the potential for soil erosion.

Things You Can Do
  • Whenever soils are disturbed or laid bare utilize a silt fence or other appropriate methods of erosion control. As soon as possible re-establish vegetation over the area. Mulch the area to provide a temporary cover and protect the soil from rain.
  • Preserve existing vegetation as much as possible. Vegetation naturally reduces erosion. Trees and other vegetation intercept the rain so that it does not reach the soil's surface with any force. The leaf litter on the forest's floor also acts as a barrier to the force of the rain and allow more of the rain to infiltrate into the ground.
  • If you are re-grading your land create softer or shorter slopes which have less of a potential for soil erosion.
  • Maintain wide buffer strips of natural vegetation which help to filter out pollutants.
  • Always mulch bare or disturbed soils.
  • Terrace slopes to slow the flow of runoff.

Next: Phase II Stormwater Regulations