Do I Really Need a SWPPP Plan? What Will it Do for Me?

Do I Really Need an SWPPP Plan? What Will it Do for Me?

Construction sites have an impact on the environment. One of our main priorities is to reduce this impact as much as possible. One of the ways to do that is with a SWPPP Plan. This extensive document may be something you consider overlooking, but that is something you should never do. While the primary goal of a SWPPP Plan is to protect the environment, it can also protect you.

What is SWPPP

SWPPP is an acronym that stands for Stormwater Pollution Protection Plan. It is a requirement of the 1972 clean water act when obtaining a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

As water runs over a construction site’s surfaces, the water carries many things along with it. Any pollutants, contaminants, debris, or whatever else will travel along with the water. Eventually, whatever collects in the water will pollute local water sources.

In doing so, the local environment, and even polluted drinking water, causes harm to plants, animals, entire ecosystems, and also people.

A SWPPP works to prevent the risk of polluting water sources by identifying the potential pollutants on a construction site and the Best Management Practices (BMP’s) and details safety plans for workers to follow.

BMP Examples

BMP’s are put in place to filter and control the volume of water runoff. What BMP’s are to be present and monitored are specified by the SWPPP.

Some common examples are:

  • Silt Fences
  • Sediment Track-Out Controls
  • Inlet Protection
  • Concrete Washouts
  • Secondary Containment Areas
  • Coverage of Outdoor Storage
  • Spill Kits and PPE in High-Risk Areas
  • Proper Landscaping

When Do I Need a SWPPP?

To receive an NPDES Permit, your company must create a SWPPP any time your construction project disturbs an acre of land or more (unless you qualify for an NEC.)

The SWPPP is site-specific and prepared by a company executive that details any site activities and conditions that may cause water pollution along with any steps the facility will take to prevent the discharge of pollutants.

It’s essential to understand Federal, State, and Local construction permit requirements as well. While the EPA sets the standards for states to follow, a state or even local agency may enforce their own set of guidelines you must follow.

Federal requirements are much looser than those of state and local agencies. Local agencies are often the most stringent because they are usually in place because of drinking water supplies or highly populated areas being nearby.

Not following the requirements of Federal, State, or Local agencies can result in fines or worse, which is why you always refer to your project’s civil engineer of record for guidance on obtaining the proper permits.

NOI and NOT?

Site operators or owners must also submit the Notice of Intent (NOI) describing the pollutants they will discharge along with the receiving waters’ names to receive an NPDES permit. After this, you may submit your SWPPP, which you will prepare ahead of time.

Once approved, contractors must comply with the permit until it is closed by filing for the Notice of Termination (NOT). The NOT ensures all materials and pollutants are properly removed from the site, and the disturbed area has reached final stabilization.

What Should a SWPPP Include?

A SWPPP is a large document that contains hundreds of pages, and they can vary greatly depending on local requirements. However, all will include distinct details of the job site and pollutants and safety measures and practices regarding their contamination.

Information such as the name of the Facility and Contacts, pollutants, the likely sites of pollution, how often the materials are handled, and a detailed site map are all requirements. Other information such as Implementation plans, safety plans, and a list of BMP’s must also be present within the document.

Inspection Requirements and Frequency

The Permits will establish the procedure and frequency of inspections of the job site, and you are required to track the information regarding inspections in the SWPPP.

Setting up inspections through a general contractor or third-party inspector is a requirement for obtaining permits.

The Federal government requires that the inspector have proper qualifications but local and state agencies typically have much more stringent requirements of the inspectors.

Worker Safety 

It’s important to understand that a SWPPP is partly in place to protect you and your workers. It will detail safety protocols and what you expect of them. In the case that a harmful chemical does spill, this document can provide the information that is necessary for both cleaning and containing the pollutants along with keeping workers safe.

That is why everyone on a job site needs to clearly understand the safety plans detailed in your SWPPP. You should also know that having this document makes your job site insurable, protecting you if an accident occurs.

Need additional help? Contact a trusted Path Light Pro team member today.

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