Armchair Builder

What is Stormwater Management?

Stormwater Management Controls: Silt Fence

What is stormwater management? You’ve decided to take on the role of the general contractor/armchair builder for your new building project.  You have accepted the fact that you will be responsible for the overall project including hiring subcontractors, scheduling the work, and managing the budget.  But what about complying with EPA regulations?  Who will be responsible for stormwater management?  Better yet…what is stormwater management?

The short answer is…stormwater management is the process of keeping all disturbed earth on your site.  So in essence, once you start digging or moving dirt on your site, you should have controls in place to keep the dirt particles on your site.

You are probably saying to yourself…But why should I care?  After all…it is my dirt!  Before we discuss a few professional tips for stormwater management, we should talk about why we need to control storm water and erosion.

New construction sites have disturbed earth from grading, digging, trenching…etc.  When there is no vegetation to hold the soil particles in place, any rain water that mother nature brings will try to carry the soil off site.  If the soil makes it’s way off site, you create a number of different problems including muddy streets that can cause accidents, debris in storm drains causing clogs and expensive pumping to remove, and silt in streams which kills wildlife and clogs natural flow of storm runoff…etc.

So how do we prevent the soil/sediment from getting off your building site?  Let’s go over some erosion control measures for proper stormwater management on your new project.

Silt Fence:   You’ve probably seen this on the perimeter of construction projects.  This 2-3′ tall black fabric has very small holes in it that lets water through but helps trap sediment on your site.  The stakes are driven into the ground and the bottom 6-8″ of fabric is burried into the ground. It costs about $.30 a foot for the material including geotextile fabric (black fabric) and stakes.  If you have someone install the silt fence, it will typically cost another $.50 a foot or so.  As part of the stormwater management process, you will need to inspect the fabric after each rainfall to make sure it is still in tact.   Your silt fence should be installed around the entire perimeter of your project (except at the driveway) just before you start any excavating activities.  If it gets removed to run utilities, be sure you put it back immediately after the work is complete.

Storm Drain Protection:  You will want to provide some form of protection for your storm drains to prevent soil particles from running down the drain.  This can be accomplished with more geotextile fabric placed between the grate and the drain.  Or, you can install more silt fence around the drain if it is located in the yard.  Another option for the street storm drains in front of your project is the Gutter Buddy shown in the picture.  It’s about 6″ in diameter with holes through the center.  Rain water can make it’s way up through the holes but the silt that gets to the street is trapped.  These must be checked after every rainfall for any cleaning necessary so include this in your stormwater management plan.

Street Drain Protection

Construction Drive:  A well maintained construction access drive is vital to a good stormwater management plan.  Built with 2-3″ aggregate stone (@ 6″ depth), it will help keep the tires of delivery trucks clean.  Make sure your excavation contractor places the stone on suitable soil (remove any topsoil before placing) and be sure to add additional material as needed.  Include in your subcontracts with suppliers and trades a note that prohibits any driving off of the construction access drive.  Your trades and suppliers play a vital role in proper stormwater management.

These items should get you started.  Remember to inspect all of these controls after each rainfall for breaches or clogs.  Check with your local building department for their recommendations and requirements for stormwater management before starting your project and be sure to follow them.

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How to Build a Home, Step 21: Excavate for Foundation - Armchair Builder :: Blog :: Build, renovate, & repair your own home. Save money as an owner-builder.- Armchair Builder :: Blog :: Build, renovate, & repair your own home. Save money as an own | March 19, 2013 at 3:06 pm

[…] Silt Fence:  That two foot tall black fence you see around the perimeter of construction sites helps keep the soil particles from running off site when it rains.  To learn more about it, check out this article on Stormwater Management. […]