When is a California SWPPP or Bay Area Stormwater Management Plan Required?


This December has been the wettest month for San Jose  in 60 years. What does that mean for you as a Bay  Area property owner who is looking to start your construction project, especially during the rainy season? Any active construction site that typically disturbs more than 1 acre of land is legally required to have a SWPPP, or stormwater pollution prevention plan. A property owner is held responsible for violations to stormwater pollution requirements and can be subject to substantial fees and penalties.

California SWPPP Basics

Construction sites, because of their earth-disturbing and construction activities, have a high potential of generating runoff sediment and pollutants that can flow to rivers and other water bodies. A stormwater pollution prevention plan is a detailed document that is a guide for the contractor and provides for monitoring programs designed to prevent stormwater pollution during construction activity. California SWPPPs must be filed electronically with the State Water Quality Control Board and remain a living document (subject to modifications and additional reporting) until the project is complete.

The stormwater pollution prevention plan typically contains the following:

  • A customized detailed plan for the specific project addressing all potential sources of pollution on the construction site for stormwater and non-stormwater conditions.
  • A stormwater management site plan
    indicating how and where all required construction activities and Best Management Practices (BMPs) are to be applied.
  • Details of BMPs that are specific to the project and applicable State-adopted BMPs.
  • Visual and Testing monitoring program
  • Chemical monitoring program for “non-visible” pollutants
  • Rain Action Plans that must be implemented and monitored prior and during rainstorm events.
  • Implementation of Construction Personnel training prior to rainy season.

When is a SWPPP required

In general, if your project disturbs one or more acres of soil, or is less than one acre but is a part of a larger project, you will be required to file and implement a SWPPP under the General Permit for Discharges of Storm Water Associated with Construction Activity (2009-0009-DWQ Construction General Permit). Construction activities for this permit include clearing and grading or other ground disturbances such as stockpiling or excavation.

How to obtain a SWPPP

In California, a Qualified SWPPP Developer (QSD) is required to prepare the plan, and a Qualified SWPPP Practitioner (QSP) is required to implement it. When working with a Civil Engineer on your project, it may be most practical if your engineer is also a QSD who can readily develop the required SWPPP or stormwater management plan and advise you on the regulatory issues.

In order to avoid significant costs and penalties, it is important that your project has a quality stormwater pollution prevention plan associated with the 2009-0009-DWQ Construction General Permit. The permit must be obtained by the Legally Responsible Person (LRP) or the person legally authorized to sign on behalf of the LRP. With the proper documents and permits, you will be set to build.

Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan Resources

The California State Water Resources Control Board Storm Water Program


FAQs on 2009-0009-DWQ Construction Permit by California State Water Board

FAQs by SWPPP Smart

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