Stormwater Compliance for a Contractor

Public Works Resource
May 18, 2012 — 1,225 views  
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According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), stormwater runoff occurs when water from rain and snowmelt overflows so much that it does not become absorbed in the ground, but flows over land or impermeable surfaces. Impermeable surfaces might include parking lots, streets, building roofs, tennis courts or another hard surface where water has nowhere to go.

While a few puddles here and there might not seem like a big deal, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) explains polluted runoff is just as detrimental to the environment, if not worse, than pollution from factories and sewage plants. This is because polluted stormwater is a major source of water contamination.

When unregulated polluted runoff flows over parking lots, suburban lawns and city streets, it becomes urban stormwater pollution and carries dirt, trash, toxic chemicals and organisms that can cause disease, notes the NRDC. If stormwater is unmanaged, it can pollute beaches and therefore hurt tourism and recreational activities such as boating, contaminate drinking water supplies, shellfishing waters and other commercial fisheries, and it has the potential to damage businesses and homes due to flash floods.

In order to prevent these things from happening, construction stormwater compliance is needed to regulate the runoff. The EPA states that construction stormwater runoff is a major concern for water quality because water can flow over a construction site and pick up chemicals, sediment and debris - clogging waterways and potentially killing fish and other wildlife. Therefore, construction managers who are excavating, clearing or grading one acre or more are required to abide by the Stormwater National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting program.

Most states have been authorized to implement the program, however depending on the state, some contractors may be required to obtain additional permits. Construction managers and contractors should consult the EPA and state resources to find out what is required. The NPDES permit program helps contractors control water pollution by regulation resources that discharge the pollutants into water. The California Environmental Protection Agency explains point resources are things such as man-made ditches and pipes that control the stormwater runoff. Authorized by the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1972, the program has since played a major role in improving water quality at the state and national levels.

Contractors should take note that activities on less than one acre of land must also obtain a permit if they are part of a larger development plan of land totaling over one acre in coverage. For example, the EPA says if a contractor buys ten acres of land and plans to build houses on land plots that are less than one acre each, stormwater permits may still be required.

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