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Top Construction Site BMPs Guide – Made Easy

silt fence with erosion control for construction

Construction projects can create big stormwater runoff problems. The water floods across bare land, picking up soils, chemicals, trash and other pollutants. This contamination then harms downstream waterways when it leaves the site.

So how can builders prevent stormwater pollution?

The answer is BMPs. BMP stands for Best Management Practices.

BMPs are special techniques, actions and controls that keep construction site pollutants from washing away in runoff during rains. They are the best methods to manage and treat stormwater.

This guide explains the most effective BMPs for:

  • Controlling site erosion
  • Managing water flows
  • Stopping spills and leaks
  • Capturing loose sediment

Understanding BMP options and how to combine them is key for builders to lessen their environmental impact. Let’s explore the proven solutions.

The 2 BMP Categories

1. Erosion Control

These BMPs focus on keeping soil planted in place so rains can’t loosen and move sediments:

  • Mulch blanketing exposed ground
  • Permanent and temporary seeding
  • Laying erosion-resisting mats and blankets
  • Preserving or planting native vegetation buffers

2. Sediment Control

sediment control with silt fence

These BMPs capture loose soil that storms start washing along:

  • Silt fences filtering out eroded sediments
  • Drain inlet protections trapping sediment
  • Special ponds and traps to contain sediment so it settles out

Many options exist in each category. Builders determine the ideal mix of combined controls that minimize erosion and capture unavoidable soil disturbances based on region and project size.

Let’s look closer at some of the most vital BMPs for handling soils and sediments on active construction sites. Their benefits underscore why best management practices are indeed best practices.

The Top 12 Construction BMPs

1. Save Existing Plants

Keeping living trees, grasses, and soils intact prevents erosion. Fence off areas around waterways and drainage routes to protect vegetation.

Existing trees, grasses, and other vegetation help prevent erosion. Preserve existing vegetation wherever possible, especially near waterways and drainage areas. Use fencing or flagging to mark vegetation that should be protected.

2. Quickly Seed and Mulch

Immediately put seed and mulch on any land stripped bare. This temporary cover blocks erosion. Use extra erosion blankets on steep hills.

erosion control blankets for extra protection on steep slopes.

3. Install Silt Fences

Place silt fences along slopes to filter sediment out of runoff. Trench in fences firmly so water doesn’t sneak under and make them fall over.

4. Protect Storm Drains

Block drains with gravel bags, rolls, or fabric to keep sediment from entering. Clean any drains that get clogged.

Use gravel bags, fiber rolls, filter fabric or other barriers to protect on-site and nearby storm drain inlets from sediment-laden runoff

5. Stabilize Site Exits

Minimize off-site mud tracking. Use stone exit pads to shake and wash vehicle tires.

Minimize off-site sediment tracking by having gravel or stone pads, rumble strips, and wash racks at construction exits. This helps shake mud off and wash vehicle tires before they leave the site.

6. Divert Flows Away from Bare Soils

Use berms and swales to redirect runoff away from disturbed ground towards protected slopes or holding ponds.

Use graded berms, swales, or slope drains to divert stormwater away from disturbed soils towards stabilized areas or sediment basins.

7. Install Check Dams

Place temporary dams in drainage ditches and channels. This slows water flow so sediment settles out instead of washing away.

Install Check Dams

8. Build Sediment Traps/Basins

Create pits and ponds at drainage low points. This contains eroded soil on-site for particle settlement. Size basins suitable for expected water volumes.

Build Sediment Traps

9. Reinforce Channels

Line channel walls with turf mats or rocks to prevent stormwater flows from eroding banks.

Line channels with erosion control blankets

10. Protect Slopes

Cover bare inclined areas with erosion control blankets or hydroseeding mix. Divert any uphill runoff safely around slopes if possible.

Use erosion control blankets, hydroseeding, gradient terraces, soil binders, or other techniques to stabilize steep and long slopes

11. Stage Land Clearing

Only clear sections actively under current construction. This leaves other areas vegeated to naturally control erosion. Don’t strip everything at once.

Phase grading so only areas actively being worked are exposed. Avoid clearing the entire site at once, which leads to large expanses of bare soil.

12. Cover Soil Piles

Temporarily seed piles or wrap with silt fencing. Place piles away from drainages and roads to limit sediment pickup.

Cover or seed soil stockpiles. Surround them with silt fence or berms to prevent sediment from washing off during storms. Locate piles away from drainages, streams, and roadways.

Pro Tip: For best results, pair erosion protections like seeding together with sediment controls like drain covers. Defenses working together handle more risks.

Making BMPs Work

Install key perimeter BMPs like silt fences and storm drain protections early, before major grading activities begin.

Getting started right facilitates positive cascades:

Regular Review

  • Inspect all BMPs weekly and after storm events. Catch any developing issues early before major failures. Identify additional areas needing enhanced protections.

Proactive Upkeep

  • Remove trapped sediments routinely before capacity thresholds are exceeded. This maintains intended function.
  • Repair or replace damaged barriers, traps and controls ASAP to preserve integrity. Eliminate any gaps.

Adaptive Enhancements

  • Expand BMPs based on updated risk assessments from consistent inspection learnings. For example, adding a swale to divert flows away from a expanding disturbed zone.

Conscientious Documentation

  • Log all BMP administration activities thoroughly – installation notes, inspection checklists, fix details, expansion locations. Photographically document pre/post conditions.

Staying proactive with BMPs through methodical mitigation practices keeps contractors successful and sites sustainable – come inspection time or storm season. It takes diligent follow-through, but outcomes manifest steadily when teams work towards common runoff prevention goals. Let’s build wisely together.


TxDOT: Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWP3) guidance document

TxDOT: Storm Water Field Inspector’s Guide

EPA: Developing Your Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan

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