Achieving construction stormwater plan objectives
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June 13, 2014
Achieving construction stormwater plan objectives
By Amanda Czepiel, JD, Senior Managing Editor

Organizing a construction project is complex, and along with creating and compiling blueprints, obtaining municipal approval, and securing financing, in most cases, you must also fulfill stormwater management obligations. If you are planning on beginning construction on a site that is 1 acre or larger, or on a smaller parcel that is part of a common plan of development that is greater than 1 acre, you are required to obtain coverage under a stormwater permit and meet permit conditions, including the development of a stormwater plan.

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Because both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and states issue such permits (your permitting authority depends on whether your state has been delegated National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting authority), permit applications and conditions vary; however, one requirement is consistent: a stormwater plan must be developed, and what you include in such a plan must be achieved and demonstrated.

These stormwater plans may be known by a variety of names. If the EPA is your permitting authority, your plan is a stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP). Many states follow EPA’s lead, although a construction stormwater plan may also be known by one of the following:

  • Construction Best Practices Plan
  • Sediment and Stormwater Plan
  • Erosion, Sediment, and Pollution Prevention Plan
  • Construction Site Best Management Practices Plan
  • Erosion and Sediment Control Plan

Regardless of the title used in your state, these plans, and the permits that require them, tend to have many common objectives:

  • Stabilize the site as soon as possible using vegetation, mulches, blankets, and soil binders.
  • Protect slopes and channels by directing stormwater runoff around the tops of slopes.
  • Reduce impervious surfaces and promote infiltration to reduce runoff.
  • Watch your perimeter, making sure sediment does not leave the site.
  • Even if waters are on adjacent sites, take precautions to protect them.
  • Practice good housekeeping by providing proper waste and garbage containers and storing hazardous materials so they are not exposed to stormwater.
  • Minimize exposure by phasing the construction process.

Whenever you are creating and implementing a stormwater plan, keep in mind that you are developing it for your use, but also for the review and inspection by your regulatory authority, which may also include officials on the local level. The EPA recommends using Minnesota’s Stormwater Construction Inspection Guide and its guide Developing Your Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan to help prepare for a site and plan inspection in any state.

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