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What is an SWPPP and When Does a Project Need One?

As a Construction Site Operator, you need to know when you need an SWPPP or not. There are some cases where your Construction General Permit for construction activity requires one, especially if soil is going to be moved. However, there are some construction site operators who are clueless about it until they are asked by the regulating body to create one. So they ask, “What is an SWPPP?”

SWPPP stands for Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans. It is a requirement for all construction sites seeking coverage under your state’s Construction General Permit.  The plan identifies the possible sources of pollution that can affect the immediate environment surrounding your construction activity via storm water discharges coming from your worksite. It also outlines environmental best management practices (i.e. Silt Fence, Inlet Protection, Diversion Dikes, etc.) to be implemented in order to reduce or prevent pollutants from adversely affecting the surrounding environment.  Lastly, it assists in bringing your site into full regulatory compliance with the Construction General Permit.

SWPPP requirements can differ from state to state. However, there are typically only slight variances as states must meet the minimum federal NPDES SWPPP requirements.

It should be noted that the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan is only temporary. It is designed to handle the storm water runoff at the construction site. The plan is only applicable during the construction phase. Once the project is complete and final stabilization has been reached, then the SWPPP is concluded via a Notice of Termination.

The operator of the construction site is responsible for the creation and implementation of the SWPPP. This is typically the general contractor in charge of the construction. Occasionally, an SWPPP drawing will be required by the regulating authority prior to breaking ground on the construction site, but this varies according to federal, state and local guidelines.

When is a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan Needed?

Projects that are going to disturb at least one acre of soil are required to have Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan as part of the Construction General Permit requirements. In some locales, the SWPPP must be certified by a qualified SWPPP developer that has undergone a rigorous certification process. Additionally, site inspections are often required to be performed by a CESSWI Certified inspector.  In contrast, many states still require only pertinent construction industry experience in order to compile an SWPPP and/or perform inspections.  Contrary to what some will tell you, you do not require your plan be created by a Professional Engineer, and proceeding that route will put your project grossly over budget.

A lot of people think that the plan is only about sediment and erosion control. However, an SWPPP is a comprehensive description of all activities on the construction site which outlines how the site operator will prevent stormwater contamination, comply with the Clean Water Act, and control erosion and sedimentation.

How Do I Write an SWPPP?

There are templates available online that can help you write your own SWPPP. However, it should be noted that it can be a difficult and cumbersome process especially if you haven’t written one before. It is essentially a detailed regulatory document, and all pertinent Federal, State, and Local requirements must be accounted for to ensure full compliance.  For this purpose, avoid the hassle of learning all of the detailed regulations and let Xpress SW3P give you Peace of Mind for your permitting.  When we say Xpress, we mean it as 72 hour turnaround is our standard with 24 & 48 hour turnarounds available as well.  Fast, reliable, professional – Xpress SW3P.  Just let us know how we can help.


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