If your next solar project requires a stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) as part of the permitting process, getting it right the first time is essential for staying on schedule and keeping the budget in check. Failing to comply with SWPP requirements—either by not submitting an SWPPP, submitting a non-compliant plan, or not following your plan—can result in lawsuits, hefty fines, and damage to your reputation.  

Tips for Developing and Implementing an SWPPP

By being proactive, you can protect the environment and keep your project in compliance. Follow these tips to get your SWPPP in place and stay compliant for the duration of the project:

1. Understand EPA guidance. 

If you’re new to SWPPP requirements, start your research on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website. Here, you can find guidance documents, example SWPPPs, and easy-to-read brochures that cover the basics. 

2. Identify the right team.

An SWPPP is a regulatory document that has serious implications for your business. This is not a project for the new intern but rather a critical process that requires experienced professionals. If you don’t have this expertise in-house, outsource it to a qualified consultant.

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3. Start with a template. 

The EPA and other agencies provide SWPPP templates to help you get started. Find the one that best matches your regional requirements and project specifications. A template will ensure that you include all the necessary information so that your SWPPP gets approved quickly. 

Your SWPPP will feature information unique to your site, including:

  • An overview about the project and accompanying site map.
  • A description of the project activities that could potentially cause water pollution.
  • The control measures you will implement to prevent water pollution.
  • How you plan to perform inspections and monitor your project.
  • How you plan to update your SWPPP as the project evolves.

4. Assess the site. 

The site assessment is the foundation of your SWPPP, so it must be as accurate as possible. Work with a qualified professional to perform a site assessment that results in a site map showing:

  • Drainage patterns on the site.
  • Existing wetlands and surface water on the site.
  • Predicted slopes after grading has been completed.
  • Where on the site the soil will be disturbed.
  • Areas that are designated as not to be disturbed.
  • Where soil erosion controls and stabilization activities will be located.
  • Where stormwater could potentially discharge.

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5. Develop your stormwater pollution prevention plan.

Based on the site assessment, develop a plan for mitigating stormwater pollution that your activities might cause. On a solar project that includes clearing and grading, it’s common for soil to be disturbed on large swaths of land. Your SWPPP must outline your plans and timelines for:

  • Soil stabilization practices.
  • Structural controls during solar site preparation and construction.
  • Permanent stormwater management controls.

The SWPPP must also include a detailed description of your maintenance and inspection plan to ensure the controls you are putting in place will be effective. Additionally, outline who will be responsible for implementing each pollution mitigation measure you have described in the plan.

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6. Implement your SWPPP.

An SWPPP is a living document, not just paperwork that sits in a regulatory office after it is submitted. To stay compliant, train your crews on the requirements of the SWPPP and their responsibilities for implementing the plan. Follow the inspection and maintenance practices you outlined in your SWPPP, and as new information comes to light, update the plan and retrain crews accordingly. 


Getting your SWPPP in place is half the battle. Once you have developed a plan, site crews are responsible for compliance. 

YAK ACCESS has decades of experience training crews and implementing SWPPPs for construction, utility, and clean energy projects. When you work with YAK ACCESS to prepare your solar site, you can be confident that the erosion control practices and monitoring procedures outlined in your plan will be followed. 

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