If you run a construction business, stormwater management is a crucial consideration for you, and stormwater inspections will need to be carried out on a regular basis. But exactly what is involved in stormwater inspections?

According to California State Law, owners and operators of construction enterprises need to obtain permits and have in place a stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP). Part of obtaining this and complying with regulations involves having regular stormwater inspections.

Inspections are carried out frequently by a professional inspector during active construction as well as promptly after significant rainfall. Inspection procedures involve a number of main steps, including pre-inspection preparation, entry to the site, and review of records (including SWPPP and application for coverage, as well as previous site inspections).

The site inspection will include accurate documentation of site specifics, best management practices, discharge points and inlets. Photographs and diagrams will likely be taken for documentation.

One of the main aspects of a site stormwater inspection is to ensure that sediment and other stormwater pollutants that leave the site in runoff don’t impact natural or other waterways. Best management practices in place in a construction site will include sediment basins, silt fences, material storage areas, and slope stabilization.

Basic Steps in an Inspection

  • The inspector will begin at the lowest point in the site; first noting discharge points, and then proceed up the slope to inspect the remaining parts of the site. If it appears that any sediment from the site is leaving the area via the discharge points, the inspector will walk downstream to assess and document the extent to which polluted runoff travels and what, if any, impact it has on waterways or stormwater drainage systems. Samples of stormwater discharge may be taken for testing.
  • Perimeter sediment controls for the construction site will be inspected for proper installation and maintenance.
  • Best management practices required by the SWPPP will be compared with the actual conditions at the site.
  • Disturbed areas that aren’t currently being used for work will be inspected, as these need to be covered either temporarily or permanently. Exposed soil needs to be stabilized. So too must wetter perimeter areas be stabilized.

Following the stormwater inspection, the inspector will conduct an exit interview with the person in charge of the construction site; debriefing and communicating preliminary findings. This will include both positive and, if necessary, negative feedback on what is being done well and what needs to be improved.

A final report will be delivered after review and this is a legal document.

Stormwater inspections are carried out for the good of the environment as well as for your benefit as a construction site owner or operator. The feedback given is invaluable and it is one sure way to ensure you are compliant with regulations.