stormwater management

A New Focus on Construction Site Erosion Control

Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP) were once merely a formality of the construction site – yet another set of hoops to jump through in order to get the necessary permits to start a job.  But as the world continues to shift towards being more environmentally conscious, stormwater management is getting a closer look.

What is Stormwater Management?

In short, stormwater management is controlling the entry and exit or water from a construction site in order to lessen the impact on the surrounding environment.  For example, construction sites sometimes lay bare large areas of earth where even a light rain can result in soil erosion that could fill a nearby waterway with sediment and debris.  Preventative measures include the placing of filtration devices, such as rock bags, that encourage water to pass through while leaving suspended particles behind.


There are various other erosion control products ranging from straw wattle (tubes of straw), to semi-porous fencing, to bales of hay.  Exactly what is needed and how it is applied to the different stages of a construction project vary from one jurisdiction to the next, but all have the similar purpose of controlling how water enters and leaves the site.


What is the Future of Stormwater Management and SWPPP?

As more and more pressure is put on local authorities to implement stricter environmental rules, construction sites have come under the microscope.  Not only will SWPPP plans come under more scrutiny during the approval process, but could include frequent visits from authorities during construction to ensure the erosion control measures outlined in the plan are being followed.  Think stormwater management and SWPPP in San Diego, Los Angeles, Phoenix or other low precipitation zones mean lax rules?  Think again.  Dry, arid soil is some of the fastest to erode with even the smallest rainfall.


It used to be the case, and still is much of the time, that stormwater management control would be set up properly at the beginning, then quickly fall into disrepair never to be maintained again.  Broken, torn, and saturated erosion control has become just another common element of the construction site.  How many times have you seen construction crews drive over rock bags or slit fence intentionally pulled down?  You can expect officials to take a harder stance on this type of neglect in the future.  The simple solution is change construction site attitudes towards storm water pollution prevention measures, otherwise a contractor might find themselves having to reapply their SWPPP measures multiple times.


The Scope of Stormwater Management and SWPPP Will Grow

Along with the new scrutiny placed on water control and soil erosion, tighter restrictions on everything from wind and odors, to noise and light pollution will begin to play larger roles.  But the construction industry is no stranger to the tightening of screws by state and local authorities.  There was a point in the not so distant past where even the most basic stormwater management and erosion controls seemed draconian yet today they are commonplace; the same will eventually be true of all the new environmental requirements that are sure to come.  The world is changing; there is a bright future for those that can change with it.