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Sediment control measures - check dams

Check dams are small rock dams that are installed across swales or ditches. They reduce the velocity of flowing water, allowing sediment to settle and reduce erosion. They can also be constructed from lot logs and synthetic barriers.


  • Can function as a permanent flow control
  • Can be used as a cost-efficient temporary solution
  • Reduce steep grades to a series of more gentle grades
  • Rocks can be used as a chanel lining when check dam is no longer needed
  • Synthetic permeable barriers are generally reusable


  • Only suitable for small drainage areas (less than 0.8 ha) and low-flow velocity
  • Cannot be used in grass-lined channels as ponded water may kill grass
  • Susceptible to failure if water undermines structure
  • Only remove a small amount of sediment due to limited detention time