Top Five SWPPP omissions

July 2009 » STORMWATER MANAGEMENT SERIES
Elements most commonly missing in Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans for construction activity
Shirley D. Morrow, CPESC, CISEC

Writing plans to control erosion and sediment on construction sites started even before the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits went into effect in 1992. So why is it that so many of the plans currently designed are not in compliance with the regulations?

Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs) are complex documents that are misunderstood by many. So here are the top five elements missing in most SWPPPs —€” and five more are listed with the online version of this article.

  1. Signature and certification statement —€” Each SWPPP prepared must be signed and certified as described in the Construction General Permit (CGP). The certification statement for the SWPPP is usually the same as the certification statement signed on the Notice of Intent (NOI). Many states also require the SWPPP designer to certify the plan.
  2. Copies of the CGP and signed NOI —€” The CGP is available on the agency—€™s website and should be printed off and added as an appendix to the SWPPP along with the signed NOI.
  3. Copies of agency consultation letters —€” Many CGPs question whether the construction project will affect threatened or endangered species and their habitat or historic properties. This requires consultation with the federal or state fish and wildlife department and the state historic preservation office. Consultation letters should be sent to these agencies describing the location and activity that will take place and asking what, if any, effect there would be. The letter from the agency answering the question of how the project might affect threatened or endangered species or historic properties must be included in the SWPPP.
  4. Identification of contractors and signed contractor certification forms —€” Most CGPs require that any contractor responsible for installation or maintenance of any best management practice (BMP) referred to in the SWPPP must be identified in the SWPPP. In addition, many CGPs require that the contractors sign a certification statement. The designer of the SWPPP should provide these certification pages within the SWPPP and explain which contractors need to provide signatures.
  5. Noncompliance reports —€” Most CGPs require that any noncompliance issues be reported to the proper agencies. This includes any anticipated noncompliance or any noncompliance that may endanger health or the environment. This also includes any discharges caused by a bypass or upset (definitions for these terms are found in the CGP). A form for noncompliance reporting should be included in the SWPPP along with an explanation as to when this should be provided.

There are many elements to include when producing a SWPPP that is compliant with federal, state, and local regulations. Addressing these Top Five commonly missing elements is a good start to accomplishing this. And if you want to learn more, the web version of this article contains five more essential elements.

Shirley D. Morrow, CPESC, CISEC, president of ABC—€™s of BMP—€™s, LLC, provides training and consulting on NPDES construction activity compliance. She can be contacted at sdmorrow@abcbmp.com.


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