Many construction companies and developers in Utah and across the United States regard SWPPP with disdain, believing it to be a complex mess of red tape and unnecessary expenses. Here at Silver Leaf SWPPP, we agree that it’s complex, but we also understand why — and when — it’s necessary to have a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan. We know not all construction companies understand when they need a SWPPP, however, and we’re here to provide our expertise.

What Is a SWPPP?

A SWPPP is a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan — a federal law created by the Environmental Protection Agency to protect the nation’s waterways. Construction companies sometimes need to create a SWPPP to file with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System in order to get a construction stormwater general permit.

Completing and filing a SWPPP can be challenging, which is why our company is dedicated to helping construction companies and developers with this daunting task. It’s a fairly involved document and if any mistakes are made, it can delay your project. You may have to take the time to redo the SWPPP, or if your workers don’t stay in compliance with the plan, you may be subject to fines, penalties or work stoppages. That’s why it’s critical that you work with an experienced SWPPP management firm such as Silver Leaf SWPPP on BMP installation and maintenance.

Why Is SWPPP Necessary?

Although construction companies sometimes look upon SWPPP as a headache, we assure you that it is an important law. Before the EPA created SWPPP in 1972, the waterways in the U.S. were much more vulnerable to pollution.

When you think of pollution, you probably think of trash or hazardous materials. These certainly are dangerous to our waterways, and not just because trash is ugly. Trash can build up in streams, rivers, ponds, lakes and even the ocean, where it can harm fish, birds and other creatures. And while our drinking water is treated to make it safe, we know that many communities have suffered the effects of water that was not safe to drink.

It may seem like an irony to you, but did you know that the country’s largest source of pollution in water today is the agriculture industry? You may have imagined the pollution comes from factories belching chemicals into rivers, but this is less common today. When it rains, the pesticides and fertilizers used on crops gets washed into the water supply. The rainwater also carries animal waste, bacteria and viruses into the water.

As a construction company owner, you might wonder how the Utah Department of Environmental Quality expects you to pollute our waterways. Outside of the obvious hazmats such as oil, gas, paint, solvents, etc. construction sites also generate trash that can get blown into the street and washed into storm drains.

But the biggest source of pollution from construction sites is silt. You may not think of dirt as a pollutant, but it is. Mud, dirt, gravel and silt that washes into storm drains ends up in area waterways, clouding the water and making it difficult for fish to see the food they need to eat. Additionally, the silt can clog the fishes’ gills, causing them to suffocate. It can do the same to other creatures such as snails. When water is cloudy, it can also get hotter, which can lower the amount of oxygen the water can hold. The silt further clouds the water, preventing the sun from reaching the green plants. In effect, the silt can kill both the plants and the fish, leaving little for the birds to eat.

That’s why it’s so important to implement erosion control measures at construction sites. You may need silt fences, barriers or wattles to prevent silt and other substances from washing into local storm drains. Some erosion control measures are taken after the completion of a construction project, such as hydroseeding and laying down seed mats. These help keep the soil in place while grass or other vegetation grows. Once the vegetation takes hold, it builds up the turf and holds the dirt in place.

How Do You Know When You Need a SWPPP?

In Utah, you need a SWPPP to get a general construction permit if your job will disturb more than an acre or if the job disturbs less than an acre but it is part of a new development or sale that is larger than an acre. What counts as disturbing soil? Clearing, excavating or grading the area.

The Utah Pollutant Discharge Elimination System requires different permits be filled out for disturbing more than an acre or less than an acre of land. The longer permit is 46 pages, and the abbreviated permit is 25 pages, so you can see why construction companies come to us for help.

In some instances, you may be able to get a waiver for a SWPPP, known as an Erosivity Waiver. It can be hard for a layman to tell if their company stands to qualify for a waiver, so many companies turn to us for our expertise in this area.

Depend on Silver Leaf SWPPP

Don’t take a self-proclaimed “expert’s” opinion on whether you need a SWPPP for your upcoming construction project. Rely on the qualified team at Silver Leaf SWPPP. We can determine if you need a SWPPP or if you’re eligible for a waiver. And if you do need a SWPPP, we can complete the process for you as well as provide weekly registered stormwater inspectors at your site. Contact us today.

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