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Sediment basins

Sediment basins — Key considerations

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What makes an effective sediment basin?

  • Sufficiently sized to intercept and retain run-off long enough for the target sediments to settle out of the water column (water regime/hydrology and area) and sediment type (see sizing in planning and design), with sufficient storage so that desilting is only needed about once every five years[4].
  • Ideally contains a high-flow bypass to prevent trapped sediment being resuspended and exported during high flows.
  • An elongated shape, with a length to width ratio between 3:1 and 10:1 to avoid short-circuiting and improve sediment trapping[2].
  • Easy access for maintenance to clean out accumulated sediment (desilting).
  • Used in combination with farm best management practices - so that the sediment basin doesn’t fill up too quickly and require frequent desilting.

Treatment processes

Suitability and limitations

Sediment basins have been used in a range of agricultural production systems and locations throughout Queensland, particularly where there is a high risk of sediment loss, i.e. during tillage, land preparation, planting or harvesting and where crops are grown on slopes.

A type of sediment basin, called sedimentation or settlement ponds, are commonly used to treat aquaculture wastewater. These ponds often take up a significant proportion of the productive area on a farm, with up to 30% of the productive land on a prawn farm dedicated to these ponds[1]. They have been shown to be effective at reducing total suspended solids (by up to 60%) in prawn farm discharge in Queensland[3]. They can also remove some particulate nutrients, but these may get remineralised into dissolved forms back into the water, leading to little overall reduction in total nitrogen and phosphorus[3].

The cost-effectiveness of a sediment basin in removing the target pollutant/s needs to be considered relative to other treatment structures or management intervention options. Refer to cost considerations for more information.


In addition to the standard disclaimer located at the bottom of the page, please note the content presented is based on published knowledge of treatment systems. Many of the treatment systems described have not been trialled in different regions or land uses in Queensland. The information will be updated as new trials are conducted and monitored. If you have any additional information on treatment systems or suggestions for additional technologies please contact us using the feedback link at the bottom of this page.


  1. ^ Australian Prawn Farmers Association (2022), Sustainable Farming (Education & Resources) – APFA.
  2. ^ Department of Land and Water Conservation (1998), The constructed wetlands manual: Volume 2, Department of Land and Water Conservation, New South Wales.
  3. ^ a b Jackson, CJ, Preston, N, Burford, MA & Thompson, PJ (October 2003), 'Managing the development of sustainable shrimp farming in Australia: the role of sedimentation ponds in treatment of farm discharge water', Aquaculture. [online], vol. 226, no. 1-4, pp. 23-34. Available at: [Accessed 27 November 2022].
  4. ^ Moreton Bay Waterways and Catchment Partnership (2006), Water sensitive urban design technical design guidelines for South East Queensland. [online], Healthy Waterways, Brisbane. Available at:

Last updated: 5 November 2022

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment, Science and Innovation, Queensland (2022) Sediment basins — Key considerations , WetlandInfo website, accessed 18 March 2024. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment, Science and Innovation