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SWPPP Inspection

Execute stormwater best management practices using mobile-ready SWPPP checklists

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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.

This article will briefly discuss the following:

  1. The Importance of an SWPPP Checklist
  2. The Impact of Stormwater Inspections
  3. Common Stormwater Inspection Problems and How to Solve Them
  4. Stormwater Inspection Software to Easily Implement and Monitor BMPs
  5. Free SWPPP Inspection Forms You Can Download, Customize, and Use

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.

An Inspection and Corrective Action Solution to Implement BMPs

SWPPP inspections, or stormwater inspections, are crucial verification processes that directly influence your company’s environmental impact. Though typical SWPPP inspections are documented through paper, going digital presents a number of advantages that help ease the process for stormwater compliance officers: 

  • Paper SWPPP inspection reports are susceptible to loss, damage, and unauthorized access while digital reports are automatically saved in the cloud and can only be accessed by authorized personnel.
  • Digital SWPPP checklists take advantage of smart form technology, making data entry easy through versatile templates that adapt and adjust to the needs of the user for added efficiency. 
  • Paper SWPPP inspection forms need to be manually printed, documented, and distributed, while digital SWPPP inspection forms can automatically generate and share reports with key stakeholders.

iAuditor by SafetyCulture is an inspection and corrective action solution that helps construction area managers, local government authorities, and third-party stormwater inspectors implement stormwater best management practices and streamline clerical tasks including data-entry and documentation for SWPPP inspections. With iAuditor Stormwater Inspection Software, you can:

  • download ready-to-use SWPPP inspection form templates from our public library, use smart scan to convert your paper template into our digital format, or create SWPPP checklist templates from scratch using our drag-and-drop template builder;
  • record stormwater inspection findings on-the-go through your smartphone or tablet, even while offline;
  • your SWPPP inspection data will automatically be uploaded via safe and secure cloud storage to ensure that no information is lost or accessed by unauthorized personnel;
  • easily assign tasks and corrective actions to your team through the app so problems are addressed sooner rather than later. iAuditor’s dashboard allows you to easily monitor which tasks have been assigned, completed, and are overdue to ensure compliance; and
  • automatically generate and share comprehensive SWPPP inspection reports to streamline data visibility.

Author

Shine Colcol

SafetyCulture Staff Writer

Shine has been professionally writing about virtually anything since her internship for a digital publisher of niche blogazines. She is passionate about building a culture of continuous improvement in the environmental, health, safety, and quality space through well-researched, engaging, and impactful content.