In terms of advancing a construction project, site superintendents and project managers breathe a collective sigh of relief once the spring rainy season has passed. If a project is well underway then it is likely that the construction team has been battling frigid temperatures and the uncertainty of freeze and thaw cycles. If a project is just getting started there is the chance that the project may have been delayed due to the soil being too soft to work effectively. At any rate warm weather brings the hope that schedule setbacks can be made up and stormy weather will be less of an interruption.
To help ensure the summer months will go smoothly, project managers and superintendents should not shortchange the weekly stormwater pollution prevention plan inspections which are required by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit. When done properly and on the required routine basis the inspection will highlight deficient areas that require maintenance attention. Staying on top of routine maintenance will ensure that the construction site can withstand the periodic thunderstorms that seem to creep up when least expected or convenient. Whether the forecast predicted rain or the thunderstorm brews up from the high heat and humidity of a midsummer day the intensity of these rain events can be unpredictable and wreak havoc on an unprepared jobsite.
Below are a few erosion and sediment control items to pay particular attention to during the summer months when a gully washer may be lurking around the corner.
Silt Fence or Filter Sock Perimeter Controls:
When the job site is dry, and the trade contractors are hustling to get work done the perimeter controls may suffer. Perimeter controls are often ripped or crushed by an inattentive equipment driver. Making sure the silt fence or filter sock are intact will be the last line of defense before mud escapes your site.
Storm Drain Inlet Protection:
Similar in many ways to perimeter controls inlet protection provides a last line of defense from sediment laden flows seeking to exit the job site through the newly installed sewer system. Inlet protection is often repeatedly run over by equipment operators leaving it tattered, torn, and ineffective. A great solution to this frequent problem is using below-grate style inlet protection. With the sediment collection bag hanging below the grate shredded fabric is a thing of the past. Periodically emptying accumulated sediment will ensure that water does not pond on your site during rain events.
Temporary Vegetative Stabilization:
Applying quick growing annual grass seed and straw mulch to exposed soils is a great way to stop sedimentation before it even begins. Soil with vegetative cover is less likely to erode and cause issues on the site. Similarly, grassed soils are better at retaining moisture which will minimize billowing dust on the site. Temporary soil stockpile should also be stabilized. If not, these stockpiles turn into an easily erodible source of dry loose soil. If vegetative stabilization is out of the question dust suppressant agents or tackifiers can provide erosion control to bare soils as well.
While there are many other areas that the SWP3 will require to be inspected on a weekly basis, pay close attention to the items listed above to avoid a midsummer catastrophe. A violative discharge of sediment will require valuable time spent cleaning it up and repairing the SWP3 controls. Worse yet, you could find yourself dealing with a regulatory inspector explaining why complaints have been called in on the project.
Blog Author: Brent Eysenbach, Deputy Director of Stormwater & Technical Services