Ask The Expert: Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans Are Integral

SWPPP Expert, Tom Pollick, QSP/QSD, Explains How SWPPP is Integral to Construction Projects

What Is SWPPP?

Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP) are integral to construction projects. A SWPPP is a detailed plan that identifies potential sources of storm water pollutants. It describes the best management practices that will be used to prevent storm water pollution from the site during construction through final stabilization at project completion. These practices will include erosion and sediment control measures, good housekeeping practices, final landscaping and storm water capture and containment measures.

Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP) involve projects that disturb one or more acres of soil or projects that disturb less than one acre but are part of a larger common plan of development. The development total disturbs one or more acres and is required by the State to obtain Construction General Permit coverage from the State Water Board. This permit regulates the discharge of storm water associated with construction activities such as clearing, grading and ground disturbances related to excavation and stockpiling.

“Our experience and understanding of the construction process enables us to work directly with the contractor in an efficient implementation of the SWPPP through the various phases of work.”

SWPPP Process

Once construction starts on a project with Construction General Permit coverage the implementation of the SWPPP must be overseen by a Qualified SWPPP Practitioner (QSP). The SWPPP, like an erosion control plan, is a working document containing both plans and specifications that detail the Best Management Practices (BMPs) that will be implemented on site during the course of construction to prevent sediment and other pollutants from leaving the site and entering water bodies or storm water sewer systems. BMPs are primarily installed to prevent and improve water quality associated with discharges of storm water offsite. Preventative measures for both erosion and sediment control include items like silt fence, straw wattles, erosion control blankets and hydroseeding. Other BMPS include measures to control dust, concrete waste management, off site track out of mud and debris and general construction material management.

Implementation of the SWPPP by the QSP will commence at the start of construction with the initial site inspection documenting that the appropriate BMPs have been installed in accordance with the SWPPP and appropriate for the current phase of work (demolition, grading, vertical construction, utilities and final stabilization). In addition to the initial site inspection, the state requires QSP inspections on a weekly basis and prior to, during, and after the completion of rain events.

How We Can Help

In addition to the SWPPP, the general permit requires very regular inspections of the construction site during construction. This includes weekly inspections for general conformance throughout the construction process plus 48 hours prior to a predicted qualifying rain event, daily during a rain event and within 48 hours after. This also includes sample testing of the storm water runoff to be sure it meets the strict standards of the State Water Board. A Qualified SWPPP Practitioner (QSP) is required to complete and/or oversee these inspections and testing. Lea & Braze Engineering has a crew dedicated to this task and has many QSPs and staff to help with this requirement. With our full-service approach, we will complete the requirements and provide the necessary reports to the State.

Lea & Braze Engineering provides a seamless transition for the owner and design team in the preparation, submission and implementation of the SWPPP.  Our experience and understanding of the construction process enable us to work directly with the contractor in an efficient implementation of the SWPPP through the various phases of work. This would be for both the long and short term, such as prior to and during rain events. Together we can often choose and implement the appropriate BMPs that meet the permit requirements yet be cost effective, sustainable, and allow for work to readily resume at the conclusion of rain or wind events.

Tom Pollick is a SWPPP expert with Lea & Braze Engineering, Inc. He can be reached at

Winter stabilization of new cut slopes including coconut coir erosion control blankets, straw wattles, and hydroseeding with a temporary irrigation system to germinate and establish the grasses prior to the rainy season.
Winter stabilization and pre-rain preparation of site including permanent hydroseeding and straw wattle installation on slopes and temporary gravel bag check dams placed on drain inlets and straw wattles weighted with gravel bags installed on paved access roads.