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10 Common Problems Found During Construction Stormwater Inspections

Water
by Guest Columnist
"If you are covered under a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for stormwater discharges associated with construction activities, your construction site is eligible for inspection by your local, state, and/or federal regulating authorities. Inspectors determine compliance with permit conditions, applicable regulations, and other requirements, and assess the adequacy of the selected best management practices at a site. To accomplish this, inspectors review on-site activities for permit compliance and the site's stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP)."

Here are ten problems inspectors commonly find at construction sites:

Insufficient grading or lack of temporary or permanent cover. Construction site operators should phase their grading activities to minimize exposure of the site at any one time. Disturbed areas where there is no active work should have temporary cover, and areas that are at final grade should have proper permanent cover as soon as possible.

No sediment controls on-site. Sediment controls, such as silt fences, sediment barriers, sediment traps and basins, and check dams, must be in place before construction begins.

Lack of sediment control for temporary stockpiles. Temporary stockpiles must be seeded, covered, or surrounded by a silt fence or other sediment control. Stockpiles may not be placed on paved surfaces.

Unprotected inlets. All storm drain inlets that could receive a stormwater discharge from the site must be protected before construction begins and must be maintained until the site has reached a stage of final stabilization.

Vehicle tracking not minimized. Best management practices (BMPs) must be installed at vehicle exits to prevent the tracking of sediment. Such BMPs include stone pads, concrete or steel wash racks, or equivalent systems.

Untreated dewatering and pollutant discharges. Construction site dewatering from building footings or other sources should be treated before discharge. Turbid water should be filtered or allowed to settle.

Insufficient BMP maintenance. All BMPs must be inspected regularly and such inspections must be documented. Any necessary maintenance must be conducted if BMPs appear damaged, require replacement, or have reduced capacity to treat stormwater.

Improper solid waste or hazardous materials management. Solid waste, including trash and debris, must be disposed of properly, and hazardous waste materials, including oil, gasoline, and paint, must be properly stored.

Poorly maintained washouts. Water from washouts must be prevented from entering storm drain systems or nearby receiving waters. Washouts must be clearly marked, adequately sized, and frequently maintained.

Lack of documentation, training, and permit coverage. But the biggest mistake a construction site operator can make? Not developing and implementing a SWPPP, obtaining permit coverage, and properly training employees. SWPPPs must be kept up to date, kept on-site, and include documentation of Notice of Intent submittal and inspection reports. All employees working on-site must also be trained on the basics of stormwater pollution prevention, the site SWPPP, and BMP installation and maintenance.


Amanda Czepiel, J.D., is a Legal Editor for BLR’s environmental law publications. Ms. Czepiel has over 6 years of experience as an attorney and writer in the field of environmental compliance resources and has published numerous articles on a variety of environmental law topics, including wastewater and NPDES permitting, brownfields and contaminated sites remediation, oil spill prevention, wetlands, and corporate sustainability. Before starting her career in publishing, Ms. Czepiel worked in hospitality consulting and for various non-profit organizations and government agencies in the environmental field. Ms. Czepiel received her law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law.

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