Erosion Controls Hit Smaller Sites

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Production builders have dealt with storm-water runoff erosion controls for more than a decade. Now, regulations that went into effect last spring are snaring even custom builders on sites as small as 1 acre.

October 01, 2003
Production builders have dealt with storm-water runoff erosion controls for more than a decade under National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System regulations. Now, Phase II NPDES regulations that went into effect last spring are snaring even custom builders on sites as small as 1 acre.

"Phase II means almost every construction site today needs an NPDES permit," says environmental scientist Shirley Morrow of engineering firm Burns & McDonnell in Kansas City, Mo.

Previously unregulated projects now might require an erosion and sediment control plan, a state NPDES permit and, if the site lies in a jurisdiction with a population of 10,000 or more, a local permit. Regulations vary greatly from state to state and can differ from one township to the next.

To determine a project’s requirements, Morrow recommends checking with the appropriate state agency, usually the department that regulates environmental quality. Then find out if Phase II applies in the area. Public works or utilities departments often handle municipal permits.

"Phase II is so new, not many ordinances are in place," Morrow says. But more and more cities and counties are putting programs together. “There are many more inspectors checking projects and more citizens complaining, which results in more rigid inspections. If you weren’t obtaining the proper permits and preparing storm-water plans before, you'd better do it now."

Penalties for violations can range from a few hundred dollars to more substantial amounts and an order to stop work.

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