Resources for the Construction Industry















 


WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

The construction industry is affected by the Phase I and Phase II stormwater permit program. Permits are now required for all construction activities that disturb one acre or greater of soil. This includes pipeline trenches, private and publicly funded projects, and transportation systems.

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) has jurisdiction over the stormwater permit program. Qualifying projects must develop a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP or SWP3) and apply for coverage under the State’s OKR10 General Permit for Construction Activities. The general permit specifies all requirements that each project must meet.

This is a true discharge permit within the same Federal and State regulations for municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants. The penalty provisions are also the same for noncompliance. The SWP3 must be submitted to the ODEQ if the disturbance is 40 acres or greater, and the SWP3 must be kept at the construction site and presented at time of inspection to Federal, State or local officials.

If your construction project is within a Phase I or II stormwater permitted city or county, then there may be local stormwater permits or requirements placed upon the project beyond what OKR10 requires. Check with the local municipal stormwater coordinator.


OKR10 requires periodic dry and wet weather inspections of the project site. The SWP3 must clearly describe and show on a map all stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) that will be deployed. There are SWP3 templates that can be used, but site-specific information must still be entered. The project’s design team can usually assist with applying for OKR10 coverage and completion of the SWP3.

If there is a question about adequacy of types of BMPs or their proper installation, the best resource will be the engineering services that help design the project. The Phase I or II city or county will not be able to recommend specific BMPs to be used. Their role is to ensure that there are no pollutants coming from the project site. It is up to the individual project manager to decide upon the suite of BMPs to be utilized. If the BMPs in the SWP3 are found to be insufficient, then additional BMPs must be deployed, as recommended by the project’s design team.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Each 5-year renewal of OKR10 (effective September 2012) brings many changes to what construction site operators must do to comply. There are now increased requirements to address watersheds with finalized Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) studies, Aquatic Resources of Concern (ARC), Outstanding Resource Waters (ORWs), and 303(d) listed impaired waterbodies. If a construction site has the potential to impact any of these areas, OKR10 has increased requirements, including deployment of vegetated buffers. Consult the OKR10 permit itself or contact ODEQ stormwater staff for specific information about these new requirements.

WHY ARE CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITIES
CONSIDERED POLLUTION SOURCES?

Why is dirt in a stream considered a pollutant? Isn’t dirt (sediment in streams) a natural part of the stream bed and stream banks? The answer lies in the quantity of sediment. Sediments come from the watershed around the stream or pond. High flows from rainfall transport sediments that settle out in streams. Sediment deposits cover habitat structures used by stream organisms such as fish and aquatic insects. When their “homes” get filled in, they cannot forage for food or seek shelter from predators.

Sediment runoff to streams also causes tiny suspended particles that cloud the water (turbidity) and clog fish gills. Fish can essentially choke on these tiny particles, so they avoid areas having high suspended solids. Toxic substances also like to attach to fine sediment particles. As the particles are carried downstream, the toxic substances are transported along with them.

Even before sediments from construction sites get to the stream, they can cause excess buildup in the storm drainage system. These deposits can go unnoticed until a large rainfall cannot drain effectively through the clogged drain system. Flood damage to property can result.

Another problem with excess sediment in streets and streams is simply the appearance. Dirt in streets is not appreciated by developers trying to sell nice lots, nor by citizens having to drive their cars through mud or see an unsightly mess pouring from construction sites.

There are other pollutants from construction activities as well: fertilizers, paints, solvents, gasoline, diesel fuels, oils, antifreeze, pesticides, degreasers, transmission and hydraulic fluids, and various types of cleaning chemicals. All of these can be transported in runoff from the construction site to local streams. Even the paper, cardboard and plastic trash that is discarded on-site is considered by EPA and the State to be a pollutant. These materials can be blown by winds off-site where they can enter creeks as “floatables”. Trash in streams is a violation of the Clean Water Act and the State’s water quality standards.

If the project is in a Phase I or II stormwater permitted city or county, that city or county MUST enforce against any type of construction site pollution or they face their own permit violation penalties for failure to control pollution within their jurisdictions. They face essentially the same penalties as the construction site operator for failure to control construction related pollution.


CONSTRUCTION STORMWATER LINKS:

EPA Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activities – this website provides an EPA overview of impacts of stormwater runoff from construction activities on water quality, including numerous links to guidance and stormwater permit resources.

ODEQ Stormwater Permits for Construction Sites
– this website has links to the State’s OKR10 General Permit for Construction Activities as well as additional information on the State level.

Construction Industry Compliance Assistance Center - this is a highly recommended website for the construction industry. It has numerous resources and answers many questions about stormwater and other pollutant controls at construction sites and the permit process.

OKR10 General Permit for Construction Activities
– with this link, the general permit and application forms can be downloaded. OKR10 also specifies what must be included in each project’s SWP3.

Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa – this website has much information about construction projects in the Tulsa area, including resources and contacts for further information.

Oklahoma State Home Builders Association – this website provides professional information pertaining to construction in the State, including information about certifications and latest trends and important programs.


The management practices and suggestions for stormwater control measures provided in this website are for general information purposes only. Local municipal stormwater program managers or the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) should be contacted for specific guidance on what actions need to be taken to achieve full stormwater permit compliance.