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What You Don’t Know About Storm Inlet Protection The Law and Your Responsibility at Construction Sites

Posted by: Dan Cleveland on 10/22/2009

Storm Inlet Protection 101:

Before breaking ground on any new site, developers must meet several legal requirements. Sites occupying one or more acres (and smaller ones affiliated with larger developments) cannot be disturbed without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) construction storm water permit.

 A prerequisite to getting this permit is the completion of a storm water pollution prevention plan (SWPPP), which details all pollution sources at the applicable construction site that could become waterborne and storm inlet protection solutions that will be used to keep these pollutants out of waterways.

 Without proper storm water inlet protection, sediment, debris and other pollutants can enter storm inlets and end up in rivers, streams, lakes and oceans. These pollutants wreak havoc on the environment, destroying aquatic habitats and killing wildlife.

 There are many storm inlet protection products available on the market today that keep pollutants out of inlets, and help ensure that construction sites remain compliant with the law. These products act as storm inlet filters, catching storm water runoff just before it enters inlets and allowing water to slowly seep through while sediment and other pollutants are held for safe disposal. Some of these products can even house optional oil absorbent filters so oil, along with other construction site pollutants, is separated from storm water and kept from entering waterways.

Of course, all storm water inlet filters are not made alike, so construction site operators should purchase quality products from reputable storm inlet protection specialists to ensure that they remain compliant with current laws. Companies specializing in sediment control and inlet protection solutions make it their business to keep up with regulations, so consulting their expertise can save developers valuable time researching the laws and thousands – if not millions – of dollars in potential fines.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is vigilant about enforcing the Clean Water Act, which includes many stipulations about construction sites and the preventative measures site operators must take to keep sediment and other pollutants out of storm inlets. Violators of the Clean Water Act are prosecuted regularly.

Just this past August - one of the largest builders of planned communities and timeshare resorts in the Southeast and Midwest was fined more than a half million dollars for violating the terms of its NPDES permits. According to the EPA, the builder had failed to provide proper inlet protection on sites in three separate states. The $513,740 penalty will be paid in four annual installments, plus interest.

This is serious stuff folks.  Please know your responsibilities.

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