Best Management Practices

United States


Recommends mines maintain a 1000-foot buffer from drinking water sources. Contains recommendations for erosion control, sediment control, stormwater management, vegetation and reclamation.


Pinal County requirements for obtaining a sand mine permit. They are notable for their emphasis on setbacks from rivers based on Flood and Erosion Hazard Zones. The latter are variable and defined by the potential for head cutting, pit depth, lateral migration of the river and pit capture. The document also contains several case studies documenting the damage to public health, safety and infrastructure from sand mining.

EPA Sector J Stormwater Permitting Program

During storms, sand mines may discharge pollutants directly into nearby waterbodies, thereby degrading water quality. In 1990, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed permitting regulations under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) to control stormwater discharges. As a result, NPDES permitting authorities, which may be either EPA or a state environmental agency, issue stormwater permits to control runoff. This is a fact sheet on the program which includes a list of best management practices.


Compendium of Best Management Practices To Control Polluted Runoff. Chapter 5 addresses mining activities. Joan Meitl and Todd Maguire, Editors


The gold standard among these types of publications for clarity. Contains a balanced discussion on the benefits of sand mining, the uses of sand, a glossary, and a primer on how sand mines operate. The heart of the document though is a well illustrated discussion of sand mining best practices and why they are necessary. Easy for the non-technical public to understand. Covers all aspects from site selection to clearing, construction, operation and abandonment. Explains how best practices can mitigate the dangers of sedimentation in rivers. Focused on sand mining in flood plains.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries One-Page Summary

Note the first line: A sand and gravel pit shall be located in area that precludes pit capture.  Pit capture occurs when a natural buffer separating a pit from a Scenic River is breached by streambank erosion, channel migration or overflowing floodwaters.

Louisana General Water Discharge Permit

Describes limitations of water discharges from concrete, aggregate and asphalt operations in Louisiana.


Focuses on best practices for industrial sites and pollution prevention plans for stormwater runoff. Not specific to mining, but contains in-depth discussion of principles that apply to mine sites. Also contains a glossary of acronyms and definitions, and a reference section with links to additional resources.


A list of environmental Regulations for Aggregate Mining. A concise statement of expectations from the state to sand miners.


More than 500 pages! Not specific to sand mining per se. Organized by topics such as soil stabilization; road and construction practices; sediment and erosion controls. Applicable to mining and more.


Guidelines for operators of sand and gravel mines operating in Oklahoma waterways. Discusses operations within the context of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Section S2 specifies, “No dewatering piles or stockpiles shall be positioned within the banks of the channel below the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM).” S3 specifies, “Dredging shall not be conducted in a manner or to such depths that induces channel shifts in the river or streambed, or aggravates erosion along the banks.” E3 discusses the crossing of waterways with equipment. E5 specifies that “Push piles and loading piles remaining at the end of the week shall be redistributed across the work area, to leave no obstruction to or disruption of flows in case the river or stream rises.” E9 specifies that “The operator shall anticipate river or stream rises based on storms within the watershed, and shall: 1) immediately haul or redistribute remaining short-term working piles and 2) restore natural grade and appearance to the work area(s).


Regulations and BMPs for Snohomish County.



“Leading practice sustainable development program for the mining industry.” Australia is a world leader in mining and so are these guidelines. More than a list, this is a textbook about sustainable best practices. It includes chapters of exploration, development, construction, and mine rehabilitation and closure. Well illustrated with schematic drawings and photos. The guidelines are supplemented with case studies to put them in context. More than 200 pages.

Australia: New South Whales Sand and Gravel Extraction Policy for Non-Tidal Rivers

Discusses issues relating to sand and gravel extraction from rivers, as well as how mines are regulated.


Sustainable sand mining management guidelines. Also verges on a small textbook. About 100 pages. Addresses many different types of sand mining, including from rivers and flood plains. The main objections: To ensure that sand and gravel mining is done in environmentally sustainable and socially responsible manner; to ensure availability of adequate quantities of aggregate; and to improve the effectiveness of monitoring.”


River Sand Mining Management Guideline. Very technical discussion. Targeted to the professional or would-be professional. Used in the curriculum at Colorado State. For those who want to understand the physics behind best practices. By the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Department of Irrigation and Drainage in Malaysia. Copyright © 2009 by Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID). ISBN 978-983-41867-2-2.

Sand Mining Studies

Africa (WorldBank)

A case study from The World Bank West Africa Coastal Area (WACA) management program, a platform where technical and financial partners support sustainable development in the coastal zone. A cautionary tale of practices that led to the banning of sand mining. Also discusses the use of crushed basalt as an alternative to sand. 


Donnybrook Sand Mine Case from Environmental Law/Australia. A sand mine was proposed on a floodplain in South East Queensland, adjacent to a wetland area. A principal issue in the court case was the potential environmental impacts of the mine. The soil chemistry of the site, containing acid sulphate soils and heavy metals such as iron, and the complex hydrology of the area created a cocktail of potential ecological impacts.


A 2015 study of sand mining on a river in Australia. Discusses practices that create risk and how to mitigate them.

Austrailia A Review of the Effect of Floodplain Gravel Mining on River Stability

By Anthony Larson and Dean Judd. A review of scientific literature concerning river capture of sand mines in flood plains. Discusses how rivers capture pits and the consequences.

Reclamation of Sand and Gravel Mines in Dallas and Tarrant Counties, Texas, for Recreational Use

A Master’s Thesis by M. Tylor Probasco, Texas Tech. A template for transforming sand mines into public parkland.


Sand mining effects, causes and concerns: A case study from Bestari Jaya, Selangor, Peninsular Malaysia. By Muhammad Aqeel Ashraf1, Mohd. Jamil Maah, Ismail Yusoff, Abdul Wajid and Karamat Mahmood. From abstract: “The assessment of water quality shows that water has been highly polluted immediately downstream of station at Selangor River due to high concentrations of suspended particles. Transport modeling and water quality analyses performed have identified major physical environmental impacts. The issue poses a number of policy questions that are worth to be implemented by the government.”

San Diego State

High-level overview of physical, water quality, and ecological impacts of sand mining in rivers when unregulated. Note: The sand mining along the San Jacinto is in flood plains, not the river. This is included because some people now want miners to remove material from the river as a way to reduce dredging costs.


Study called Shifting Sands by Global Witness. Discusses how Singapores demand for Cambodian sand threatens ecosystems and good governance.

Freshwater Gravel Mining and Dredging Issues

Freshwater gravel mining and dredging issues. A primer on various types of sand and gravel mining and associated risks. Written so laymen can understand.  A white paper prepared for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of Ecology, and Washington Department of Transportation by G. Mathias Kondolf, Matt Smeltzer, and Lisa Kimball of Center for Environmental Design Research at UC Berkeley.

Environmental Impacts of Sand Exploitation

Analysis of Sand Market by Marius Dan Gavriletea. Focuses on market forces and sustainability issues. Discusses both pros and cons. ©2017 by the author.

Texas Sand Mining Laws/Regulations

House Interim Report on APOs, January 2021

Discusses a variety of issues related to sand mining in Texas with a special focus on the San Jacinto River basin. Includes dozens of recommendations for how to reform the industry.

HB571 2011 Regulating Sand Mines

Full text of House Bill 571 in 2011 that required sand mines to register with the state and comply with “all applicable environmental laws and rules.”

HB571 Analysis

Summary of testimony during hearings on HB571, both pro and con.

Texas Aggregate Quarry and Pit Safety Act.

Full text of the Natural Resources Code, Title 4 on Mines and Mining, Chapter 133, Quarry Safety. Regulations pertaining to the construction, operation and abandonment of sand mines.

Texas Surface Water Quality Monitoring Program

Explains the rationale behind measuring so many different aspects of water quality, such as oxygen content, conductivity, transparency, etc.

Requirements for Nationwide Permit Certification in Texas in 2017

Requirements for obtaining a nationwide permit. Best Management Practices required by the state can be found at the end of this letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

TCEQ Regulations for Stormwater Protection Plans

Too confusing to summarize, but note the highlighted section regarding notifying the TCEQ about discharges during force majeure events. According to State Representative Dan Huberty, the TCEQ received no such notifications. And the TCEQ certainly not disclose any to me when I filed a complaint.

TCEQ Multi Sector General Permit

Includes requirements to control erosion and sedimentation at the site. Take a look at page 63. The permit does not require the installation of a particular BMP in most cases; the permit requirement is that certain BMPs be evaluated for effectiveness and the most effective installed and maintained.

Texas Parks and Wildlife requires a permit for the taking of sand

…and other materials in Texas waterways.

Texas Parks and Wildlife

History, scope and protections offered by Texas Parks and Wildlife permitting program. Focuses on mining in rivers and streams, as opposed to floodplains.

Texas BMP Finder

The primary purpose of this document is to supplement the Best Management Practices section of the Texas Nonpoint Source Pollution Assessment Report and Management Program by providing further information about the BMPs addressed there. This document provides detailed descriptions and implementation considerations for the various alternate BMP names and categories, as well as references to still more detailed technical guidance and specification documents  addressing these BMPs. Because there is a lack of standardized terms for NPS BMPs, this document provides extensive cross-references to help the reader identify BMPs of interest by any of their various names and to compare related practices.

Texas Best Management Practices Guide for the John Graves Scenic Area in the EdwardsAquifer

TCEQ rules regulate the location of quarries along a portion of the Brazos called the John Graves Scenic Riverway. They use the 100-year flood plain as a buffer zone between mines and the river. However, according to a TCEQ researcher, in other parts of the state, there seem to be:

  • No rules that include a setback distance from a sand mine to the San Jacinto River.
  • No restrictions on TCEQ permitting of sand mines in flood prone areas.

Background on Formation of John Graves Scenic Riverway on the Brazos. Explains why TCEQ rules and regulations are different there. It was formed as a pilot program to reduce sedimentation from sand quarries.

Montgomery County Floodplain Management Regulations as of July 2014

These are the local standards that sand mines must meet to obtain permits for operating in flood plains and floodways. Violations include fines and revocation of permits. Among the regulations: a prohibition against sending material downstream that harms adjacent communities or which causes other governments to increase costs, such as dredging. See highlighted portions of text.


National laws and regulations apply within Texas boundaries:

Your Property Rights vs. Sand Miners’

Text of the 2016 Texas Supreme Court decision on nuisance claims. Know your rights.


10 Sand Mining Practices that Could Help Reduce the Rate of Sedimentation into the San Jacinto River and its Tributaries: A Starting Point for Discussion

By Bob Rehak,  August 1, 2018, Compares actual sand mine practices on the West and East Forks of the San Jacinto to the best management practices around the world. Includes ten recommendations that could reduce the rate of sedimentation if universally followed.

Interim Report to the 87th Texas Legislature by the House Interim Study Committee on Aggregate Production Operations, January 2021. Outlines issues related to APOs including: noise and light pollution, transportation safety, air quality, blasting, reclamation, setbacks, groundwater disruption, water quality, sedimentation and flooding, and municipal ordinances.

Three Crucial Best Management Practices Under Consideration by TCEQ

Presented by to a committee within the TCEQ looking at establishing best management practices for sand mining in Texas.

How Development is Straining the San Jacinto River Ecosystem

A prophetic 2015 article in Community Impact Newspaper.

A Closer Look at Sand Issues on the East Fork

After Harvey, 30 acres of East End Park were covered with sand up to ten feet deep. Where did it come from? This post catalogs the evidence.

West Fork Sand Stockpiles: Before, During and After Hurricane Harvey.

Historical images from Google Earth that show how Harvey carried sand out of the mine areas.

Two Modest Proposals to Reduce the Amount of Sand Coming Downstream.

A post with two suggestions that could improve the environmental performance of the mining industry.

Where Did All the Sand Come from?

Another post that analyzes both satellite imagery, aerial images and flow rates.

Sand Mine Real Estate Tax Appraisals

Surveys of 53 parcels of land being used as sand mines on the East Fork and West Fork of the San Jacinto showed that not one was appraised as a sand mine (Classification G3) according to State of Texas guidelines. Dozens were classified as ag/timber land or vacant rural land and, as a consequence paid very little tax.

Texas Property Clasification Guide

State of Texas Guidelines for Appraisal of Timberlands

Hill Country Fight With Aggregate Producers

Comal County’s fight to Stop Vulcan Quarry

TRAM – Texans for Responsible Aggregate Mining