Depending on the location and scope, some construction projects are subject to compliance with stormwater discharge requirements to prevent runoff that can cause significant harm to waterways. Federal and state regulations require project owners to create and implement a plan to mitigate these potentially harmful effects.   

The Impact of Stormwater Pollution from Construction

When it rains, some water is absorbed into soil, and some runs off the land. The water that runs off picks up debris and other pollutants along the way. An increase in the volume of runoff and associated pollutants can potentially lead to:

  • Stream bank erosion

  • An increase in sediment

  • Flooding

  • Changes in water temperature

  • Degradation of biological habitats

When the earth is disturbed at a construction site, it can lead to erosion that results in sediment buildup in waterways. This can be disruptive to wildlife habitats and affect the water quality at the site and downstream. Because of the negative impact of sediment caused by construction, environmental regulators require project owners to take measures to reduce sediment from construction sites. 

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What Is an SWPPP?

A stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) is often required in order to obtain a construction permit and comply with environmental regulations. A key component of the U.S. EPA’s Clean Water Act, an SWPPP for construction aims to prevent pollution from runoff. 

The plan should encompass all of the construction activities—including site access—that could have an impact on stormwater contamination. Once developed, the plan should be easily accessible on-site and updated as conditions evolve. Failure to create an SWPPP or adhere to the plan can result in fines, imprisonment, and damage to your company’s reputation.

Because SWPPPs are site-specific, the details will vary. However, most include some combination of best management practices (BMPs) for:

  • Minimizing erosion and sediment

  • Minimizing non-stormwater discharges

  • Performing site inspections

  • Sampling and analysis


How to Prepare an SWPPP for Your Project

An SWPPP must be prepared by a qualified professional who is licensed to perform the work. Once implemented, the BMPs must be inspected on at least a weekly basis by a licensed professional. In the document, you must:

  • Identify potential sources of stormwater pollution

  • Describe the steps you will take to reduce pollutants in stormwater

  • Outline the processes that will be implemented to ensure compliance with the construction permit

The sooner you engage a qualified professional to prepare your SWPPP and monitor compliance, the more smoothly your project will go. Because an SWPPP is required before a construction permit can be issued, it’s a critical component for keeping the project on schedule. It’s also important to remember that compliance with the SWPPP may also affect the project budget because you may need specialized equipment or materials as part of your erosion control plan. 


How to Reduce Pollutants in Stormwater

Pollutants in stormwater, including sediment, can be reduced by controlling the volume of runoff. This is achieved by allowing stormwater to be absorbed into the soil rather than running off on top of it. Vegetation naturally keeps soil in place to reduce erosion, but at construction sites, the surrounding plant life is often disturbed. Erosion control measures at a construction site might include:

  • Erosion control blankets

  • Gravel bags

  • Silt fences

  • Straw wattles

  • Soil stabilizers

  • Access matting

Of course, construction crews must also be aware of the measures outlined in the SWPPP and understand their role in compliance.


YAK ACCESS Site Preparation Services

In addition to a comprehensive inventory of access matting, YAK ACCESS also offers full-service access solutions through our companies New South and KLEIN. Our comprehensive site preparation services include implementation of best management practices for minimizing erosion and sediment to ensure your project stays compliant with relevant regulations. We have the equipment, the trained personnel, and the expertise to ensure the requirements of your SWPPP are met consistently throughout the duration of the project. For every project, our team will work closely with yours to ensure that your site access solutions are safe, compliant, and cost-effective. 

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