Erosion and Sedimentation Control (ESC) Enforcement
Infill construction on single-family lots is one of the biggest sources of sediment erosion and contaminated runoff in the Zilker Neighborhood and probably the City of Austin as a whole. Stormwater runoff from construction sites is required to be controlled in accordance with City regulations related to Erosion and Sedimentation Conrol (ESC). Violations of the ESC regulations and standards should be reported to the City.
Reporting Violations to the City of Austin
A violation of the City of Austin's Erosion and Sedimentation ordinances and codes can be reported by calling 311. If sediment is actively leaving the site during a rainfall event, call the Pollution Hotline (24 hours/day, 7 days/week) at 512-974-2550.
A violation of the City of Austin's Erosion and Sedimentation ordinances and codes can be emailed to email@example.com along with photos.
A violation of the City of Austin's Erosion and Sedimentation ordinances and codes can also be reported online. Go to the City's online service request form and choose "Dsd - Environmental Complaint" under Service Type (enter the address under Service Location and choose "No Erosion Sediment Controls" or "Discharge" under the Service Information). According to the City, an inspector will inspect the site within five business days.
Smart Phone App
A violation of the City of Austin's Erosion and Sedimentation ordinances can be reported using the City's Smart Phone 311 App. Information on how to download this app can be found at https://www.austintexas.gov/department/311/smart-phone-app.
City of Austin Enforcement Policy
It has been the stated policy of the City of Austin to inspect infill sites that are the subject of a citizen complaint, and a goal of the City to inspect each construction site once a month. However, this routine inspection goal is seldom met as the City often has unfilled inspector positions. In December 2021, the City reported that only 80% of the sites are inspected each month. Another stated goal of the City is to educate the builders on the need for ESC regulations rather than issue violations. As a result, verbal warnings have increased while written violations and have dropped.
|Stop Work Orders||15||33|
The following table shows the enforcement action that the City of Austin says it is currently using for failure to comply with Erosion and Sedimentation Controls (ESC). If the deadline is not met the process can be accelerated to the next higher type of violation.
|Enforcement Type||Enforcement Action||Time to Comply||Fee Assessed|
|Verbal Warning||The violations are communicated to site manager for correction.||24 hrs||none|
|Written Notice of Violation||The Written Notice of Violation is posted on site or handed to the site manager so they can be corrected.||48 hrs||none|
|Written Notice of Violation
|A Written Notice of Violation with Fee is posted on site or handed to the site manager so violations can be corrected.||72 hrs||$133|
||A hold placed on the final building permit, preventing issuance of a Certificate of Compliance. However, construction can continue to completion without rectifying the ESC issues, and the hold is eventually lifted when final landscaping is installed.||Indefinite||$133|
|Stop Work Order (SWO)||A stop work order is posted on site or handed to the site manager. This action stops all work and inspections until ESC repairs are made.||96 hrs||$133|
|Citation||An Enforcement officer is called to the site to issue a citation where major violations are involved. The person the ticket was issued is required to appear in Municipal Court.||$0 to $2064
ZNA Assessment of Enforcement Actions
Although the City has increased the number of inspectors and implemented a more proactive inspection program, the City's current enforcement policy has failed to ensure consistent compliance with the City of Austin ESC regulations as demonstrated by the visual documentation of erosion control failures at sites in the Zilker neighborhood. The evidence is overwhelming. While we commend the City for increasing the number of inspectors and trying to change the culture of the builders, the time allowed for compliance is often ignored or extended, and the City does not routinely accelerate to the next higher type of violation. The lack of any significant monetary consequence to violators of the ESC ordinances results in a continuing lack of compliance. The current enforcement policy is simply not effective.