SWPPP Inspection

Execute stormwater best management practices using mobile-ready SWPPP checklists

What is SWPPP Inspection?

SWPPP inspection, also known as a stormwater inspection, is the process of verifying the implementation of a stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) in a construction site. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) requires construction site operators to regularly inspect if the best management practice (BMP) for reducing pollutants in stormwater discharges is installed and maintained.

What is an SWPPP Checklist and Why is It Important?

An SWPPP checklist is a tool used by construction area managers, local government authorities, and third-party stormwater inspectors to record SWPPP performance, rectify violations, and ultimately, demonstrate compliance with the Clean Water Act (1972). Noncompliance can lead to the issuance of a stop work order (SWO), litigation, and negative media coverage, damaging the image and reputation of operators and contractors.

This article will briefly discuss: 1) the impact of making stormwater inspections more efficient; 2) common compliance problems at construction sites and how to solve them; 3) an inspection and corrective action solution to help you execute BMPs; and 4) free SWPPP inspection forms you can download, customize, and use.

The Impact of Stormwater Inspections

Water contamination can turn a thriving community into a ghost town, affecting thousands of people, and its effect can last for generations. Hinkley, or the ‘Erin Brockovich’ town, is still suffering from the actions of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) who dumped cancer-causing contaminants into an unlined wastewater pond for 14 years. Regular stormwater inspections can help prevent future instances of negligence and protect the health of workers and civilians alike.

Common Stormwater Inspection Problems and How to Solve Them

In February 2020, three Massachusetts construction companies were fined a total of $23,220 for noncompliance with stormwater regulations such as failing to obtain, adhere to, and document inspections required by their stormwater permits. Operators and contractors should take responsibility for their actions by reducing pollutants in stormwater discharges. According to the EPA, here are solutions to the common violations during SWPPP inspections:

Poor Sediment Controls

Sediment control practices on down-gradient perimeters should be established before up-gradient land disturbance begins. BMPs include sediment basins, sediment barriers, and dam checks. Moreover, temporary stockpiles should also have a silt fence to retain sediment that has been dislodged by stormwater, and vehicle tracking on the road should be minimized by using stone pads and concrete or steel wash racks.

Missing Temporary or Permanent Cover

If any construction activity has temporarily or permanently ceased on any portion of the site and will not resume for a period exceeding 14 calendar days, then all exposed soil areas should have stabilization initiated immediately to limit soil erosion. To solve this compliance problem, install and maintain the following best management practices:

Temporary BMPs:

  • Temporary seeding
  • Mulches
  • Matrices
  • Blankets and mats
  • Soil binders

Permanent BMPs:

  • Permanent seeding and planting
  • Sodding
  • Channel stabilization
  • Vegetative buffer strips

No Inlet Protection

Before construction begins, all storm drain inlets that receive a discharge from the site must be protected and maintained until the site is stabilized. Inlet protection may be removed when safety issues are detected, and written correspondence should be documented in the SWPPP. Design the inlet protection with the appropriate size, handling the volume of water from the area being drained adequately.

Improper Solid Waste or Hazardous Materials Management

Solid waste should be disposed of properly, and implementing the site waste management plan (SWMP) mitigates the impact of waste to stormwater discharge, eventually preventing the contamination of clean water sources. Hazardous materials, including oil, gasoline, and paint, should also be stored properly.

Incorrect De-watering and Concrete Washout

Where building footings are being constructed, enforce de-watering measures that ensure the pumped discharge is not causing erosion. Never discharge muddy water into storm drains, streams, lakes, or wetlands unless the sediment has been removed before discharge. Designate specific washout areas and design facilities to handle anticipated washout water. EPA recommends that they are located at least 50 yards away from storm drains and watercourses whenever possible.

Jona Tarlengco
Article by
Jona Tarlengco
Jona Tarlengco is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2018. She usually writes about safety and quality topics, contributing to the creation of well-researched articles. Her 5-year experience in one of the world’s leading business news organisations helps enrich the quality of the information in her work.

Explore more templates

SWPPP Checklist
This SWPPP checklist is used by an Illinois-based general contracting and construction management firm for a walking inspection of the use of soil and water BMPs in construction sites. Use this checklist to record general information such as the SWPPP on site, type of inspection, and present phase of construction and weather information such as approximate rainfall, if discharges have occured since the last inspection, and if there are discharges at the time of the inspection. Inspect BMPs such as: temporary construction entrance, perimeter erosion control, site stabilization, soil stockpile, silt dikes, wetlands and waters protection, sediment basins, de-watering, dust control, inlet protection, site debris, and washouts.
Stormwater Inspection Form
This stormwater inspection is built by an environmental manager of one of the largest construction materials and contracting companies in the United States. It is used to ensure the effectiveness of their BMPs and document any corrective actions that will be undertaken. This checklist also includes a statement of affirmation at the end which the inspector can digitally sign to complete the stormwater inspection.
Stormwater Visual Inspection Form
This stormwater visual inspection form is used by an employee-owned Fortune 500 contractor based in Nebraska to evaluate their Area A stormwater. Use this checklist to identify inlets in specific locations and determine if they are adequately protected. Take/attach photos of: missing controls, stockpile, sediment accumulation, vehicle tracking, non-designated access, fugitive dust, sediment deposit, dewatering, area needing stabilization,  regulated substance, maintenance or fueling operation, spill/leak, trash/litter, unmaintained washout, and erosion.
Stormwater Inspection Form
This stormwater inspection form is used by the Auburn City Council to inspect the stormwater in a construction site prior to backfilling. Use this checklist to assess stormwater pipes, pump system, and guttering, determine what required information is to be submitted to Council (work as executed, plumbers diagram, or hydraulic engineers certificate), and indicate the result of the inspection whether satisfactory, unsatisfactory, or stop all works.
Stormwater Checklist
This stormwater checklist is used by a national general contractor, design-builder, and construction manager headquartered in Iowa to validate the condition and effectiveness of their erosion and sediment controls. Use this checklist to specify the NPDES tracking number, site activities, and qualified person conducting the inspection. This checklist also includes additional areas not currently protected are in need of BMP installation to properly protect stormwater runoff.
SWPPP Inspection Checklist
This SWPPP inspection checklist is used by a California-based full service general contractor to inspect their stormwater pollution prevention program. Use this checklist to record observations on site, corrective actions identified, risk level sampling log, field pH turbidity measurements, and upstream and downstream samples collected. This checklist is also used to ensure good housekeeping for construction materials, waste management, vehicle storage and maintenance, landscape materials, and air deposition of site materials. If BMP deficiencies are detected, list them and add the date for repairs, including corrective actions required.
SWPPP Inspection Report Form
This SWPPP inspection report form is used by a California-based stormwater inspection and maintenance service provider to certify that a facility is in compliance with the stormwater pollution prevention plan and the State General Permit for stormwater discharge from large and small construction activities. Use this checklist for a weekly or biweekly inspection of the site, weather, responsive actions due, and 16 BMPs.
Stormwater Inspection Report Form
This stormwater inspection report form is used by the Lachlan Shire Council in New South Wales, Australia to check ongoing matters in a construction site such as rubbish control, protection of public space by fence of hoarding, and protection and support of adjoining buildings. It also includes the health and building surveyor’s checklist with inspection items like spreaders on upper roof areas, sufficient down pipes and size, and more.
Stormwater Inspection Template
This stormwater inspection template is used in a Colorado-based maintenance facility as an industrial stormwater inspection log. Use this checklist to document observations regarding the location of sampling, presence of floating materials, visible oil sheen, etc., condition of and around stormwater pitfalls, and descriptions of potential pollutant sources. Indicate if there was a rain or snowmelt event and perform the visual assessment.