As attention to water quality in Georgia increased after the passage of the 1972 Water Quality Control Act and as population growth and the associated land clearing activities accelerated in north Georgia, a strong concern developed about the erosion of sediments into streams. The Environmental Protection Division (EPD) received many complaints about this erosion but had no laws or regulatory programs to address it. Local governments had some erosion and sedimentation control ordinances, but at this time, they were generally ineffective.

In 1974, EPD recommended the passage of a law to address erosion and sedimentation which was passed in 1975. This law was based on the key premise that local governments would regulate land clearing activities with oversight from EPD. Permit programs and best management practices (BMPs) were established. Agriculture and forestry activities were exempt (and still are as of 2012) from this law. Very small land clearing activities (less than one acre) were and still are exempt as of 2012.

The initial programs established in 1975 have radically changed over the years. These changes include adding the stream buffer requirements and incorporating the Federal NPDES program for stormwater. The language of the 1975 Act is similar, but not identical to the current code (as of 2012), OCGA 12-7.