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SWPPP Basics and Requirements in Construction

Construction sites and projects can have a significant environmental impact on their surrounding areas, and there are several government programs in place to help protect the areas where such jobs take place. One of the most important such programs, created by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is a stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) to lay out various contractor requirements regarding stormwater and similar concepts on their jobsite.

At Cearley SWPPP, we're happy to offer detailed SWPPP inspections, plans and related services to clients around Ogden, assisting them with this vital task and all the elements involved in staying within compliance. What exactly is SWPPP, when is SWPPP required, and which key elements of SWPPP should contractors be aware of? Here's a simple look for those just learning about this subject.


Defining and Understanding SWPPP

As we listed above, SWPPP stands for Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, and it is a written document outlining the strategies and steps that a construction company needs to take in order to prevent stormwater runoff of any kind from escaping their jobsite. The goal behind SWPPP is two-fold: To keep pollutants from entering nearby bodies of water, and also to ensure contractors are meeting all of the EPA's requirements on a given jobsite.

The need for these plans comes from the simple fact that when stormwater flows off of a construction site, it can pick up various pollutants. These may include fertilizers and herbicides from landscaping activities, as well as things like sediment, oil, and other materials from the building process itself. All of these pollutants should be kept out of nearby waterways to ensure downstream water quality is preserved -- which is where SWPPP comes in.

When is SWPPP Required?

SWPPP plans are required for any project that involves construction or land disturbance of one acre or more, as well as those which require certain types of permits from state and local agencies. In addition, many sites under an acre in size will also require a plan if the contractor believes there is potential for stormwater runoff pollution.

In any event, it's always best to check with the local government or state agency on what requires SWPPP prior to beginning a project. That way, contractors can be sure they are meeting all of the necessary requirements and staying in compliance along the way.

SWPPP Permits

Permits are a big part of SWPPP, and they come at several different regulatory levels:

  • Federal: For any construction site disturbing at least one acre of land, a federal stormwater permit is required. This document will lay out all of the necessary requirements and best practices that a contractor must meet. However, in a bit of nuance, the process for obtaining this federal permit will be controlled by your state.

  • State: Many states, in addition to the federal permit requirements, have stricter guidelines, and they will sometimes require additional permits. For example, the state of Utah sticks with the federal one-acre limit in general, but also requires a permit if the job disturbs under one acre but is part of a new development or sale that's over an acre in size.

  • Local: Furthermore, many local municipalities and counties also have their own rules, regulations, and permitting processes. For example, a contractor in Utah may face different requirements from one county to the next when it comes to SWPPP and similar concepts.

Notice of Intent

In most cases of either state or federal SWPPP requirements, contractors must fill out a Notice of Intent (NOI) prior to beginning the project. This document lays out the contractor's plan for meeting all of the necessary compliance elements, including best management practices and other key rules.

SWPPP Inspections

Beyond all of these permits and plans, most construction sites also need to be inspected at least once during the project. This inspection is done by a certified professional and it evaluates not only whether the contractor is meeting all of their SWPPP requirements, but also if any additional steps need to be taken in order to keep pollution out of surrounding waterways.

Inspections must be done at least once every seven calendar days, or once every 14 days PLUS after any rain event of 0.25 inches or more. In situations where jobsites are close to protected waters or particularly sensitive areas, inspections may need to be done more frequently.

Furthermore, contractors need to be aware that government inspectors are free to stop by at any time to check on the project and make sure everything is in compliance.

Maintaining the SWPPP

Finally, in addition to inspection reports and permits, it's a must that all sites have their SWPPP immediately available if any inspector decides to stop by. Furthermore, all records (e.g., inspection reports, NOIs) must be kept on-site or with the contractor for at least three years after the close of construction.

SWPPP is a critical part of any construction job today, and contractors will need to make sure they are following the required protocols in order to stay compliant and protect their surrounding environment. Familiarizing oneself with the latest rules and regulations pertaining to SWPPP is a must for any contractor taking on such jobs.

And at Cearley SWPPP, we strive to make sure all of our Ogden clients are up to date on their compliance needs and understand the importance of following through with all of these rules. We're here to help you keep your jobsite safe and in compliance, so reach out today if you need any assistance!