Editor’s Comments: Stormy Weather

June 5, 2013

That could be the anthem for contractors who have run afoul of the Stormwater Rule, the latest iteration of which is to be released for public review and comment in early June of this year…several days after this column goes to the printer. Based on previous statements from EPA, however, the new rule will in all likelihood extend the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s), program-relating to untreated polluted stormwater runoff discharged into local water bodies-to include areas that are not now covered.

For example, although the program now applies to smaller cities and “urbanized areas,” the new rule is expected to extend coverage to such things as the arterial roads connecting these populated areas. Additionally, it is probable that the rule will put more emphasis on stormwater discharge from existing sites (as opposed to just new development), many of which will likely require some measure of retrofit. Whatever else the draft rule contains remains to be seen, but the one thing for certain is that your activities will be affected, so it’s important that you understand how these changes apply to you and what you must do to comply.

Why focus on something that has yet to be published? Because any day you can avoid mixing it up with regulators and inspectors is a good day indeed. And rather than allowing the new rule to take effect without calling your attention to it, I’d like to make sure you have the opportunity to at least review the changes and make comments, and also to ensure you have adequate time and information to develop and/or amend your future compliance plans.

Most of us groan at the thought of more and tighter regulations in our business, especially when we are already in the crosshairs. Face it, if the stormwater and erosion control systems you’ve put in place fail-regardless of the reasons for the failure-you’re the one the regulators and project owners are going to turn their attention to, even when the fault lies elsewhere. At best, you are going to spend a lot of time and energy just in order to arrive at a position no better than where you were before the incident occurred. But where you are unable to establish for a certainty that the culpability lies elsewhere, your situation is in varying degrees worse. Not only might you be subject to fines and penalties and stuck with having to redo your work, but in the long run your firm’s reputation (and insurance premiums) will likely suffer…in today’s tight marketplace a situation from which you may be unable to recover

In order to make effective stormwater management and erosion control plans for the future, you need to be familiar with not just the details of the existing rules, but understand their implications as well.

OK, you say, but where do I go for information and help? And that brings me to the action portion of this column.

StormCon 2013
As many of you know, one of our sister publications, Stormwater, hosts an annual conference, StormCon-the world’s largest stormwater conference and exposition-that will take place this summer at the Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center Hotel, in Myrtle Beach, SC, August 18-22.

Since 2002, StormCon has been the go-to event for stormwater-related affairs, focusing on issues, challenges, opportunities, and successful practices and approaches as seen through the eyes and experiences of regulators, practitioners, product suppliers, and project owners and contractors like yourself whose livelihoods depend on reliable practices and superior performance.

Along with in-depth analyses of changes embodied in the draft Stormwater Rule, and expanded coverage of coastal protection following the extraordinary infrastructural damage in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, this year’s conference will focus on a variety of specialty topics, many of which-such as sediment and erosion control practices at airports, roadways, residential and commercial developments, and ports-are of particular interest to dirt-moving contractors.

In addition to the preconference certification courses and examinations, you will have the opportunity to take part in any of several program tracks containing more than 120 presentations, visit with nearly 200 exhibitors to learn about the latest in best management practices and products, and rub elbows throughout with people with like concerns and successful solutions.

For more details on what’s happening at StormCon 2013, along with registration information, please visit www.StormCon.com/Contractor.html.