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Stormwater: A Frequently Overlooked but Potentially Costly Construction Management Issue

posted 03.16.2018
Storm management can be an overlooked aspect of construction management that can result in a multitude of unanticipated costs and the need for additional contractors on a project. For property owners, stormwater may be a low priority when building a multi-story high-rise or shopping center. However, failure to consider potential stormwater problems could result in making them an unforgettable part of a construction project. For contractors, responsibility for who will be managing stormwater services should be identified in the bid phase of a project. If not managed well, nearby business could be negatively impacted by mud in the streets and may file a complaint with local inspectors, assigning responsibility for stormwater management.  

Planning for stormwater permitting and compliance

Well in advance of breaking ground, it should be determined who is responsible for planning and managing stormwater permitting and compliance. Frequently, this item occurs at the beginning of the rainy season when the contractor notifies the owner or stormwater permit holder that someone should manage the stormwater to prevent any scheduling delays. Since this responsibility is often specifically excluded in bids, it can become a last-minute scramble to resolve. While early partnership offers owners the greatest value, Terracon is available to collaborate with the project team after the project has begun with a focus on quickly bringing the site into compliance, and can even help after a violation has occurred. With proper planning, stormwater design challenges can be addressed, corrected with a licensed contractor, and then monitored with weekly inspections. Common recommendations may include catch basin inlet protections or other best management practices. However, the associated costs can affect project budgets and profit if post-violation recommendations need to include operation of a chemical treatment system to manage the stormwater.  

Ready to respond

When a client in the Northwest received a permitting violation letter following a recent inspection regarding the lack of stormwater management, the Terracon team was quickly to respond. The project setting included the demolition of a multilevel structure to be redeveloped with a larger multilevel structure.  The violations included the lack of properly installed or management of best management practices. These practices included track out of mud and failure to sweep daily; excess concrete on the ground not contained in a designated washout area; and cleaning or missing catch basin inlet protection. It was also required that the permit holder have weekly inspections completed by a certified erosion and sedimentation control lead. Other administrative record keeping violations included failure to report discharge monitoring reports from the permit start date and failure to maintain stormwater records/inspection sheets onsite and readily available upon request. Terracon team worked closely with the agency and inspector to bring the site into Stormwater permitting and management requirements vary widely among states, making it important for contractors to maintain a good working relationship with their state and local agencies. Understanding local stormwater management requirements can help prevent significant potential fines and project delays. With offices in more than 140 locations nationwide, Terracon can provide you with a local, trusted stormwater professionals familiar with your area regulations and can recommend the right solutions for your stormwater issues.

Erick Dubcak, P.G. is a project manager at Terracon’s Seattle office specializing in environmental project work for a wide variety of clients throughout the Northwest.