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Construction Sites and Stormwater

Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activities

Information provided from EPA's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)'s Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activities. 

Stormwater discharges from construction activities have an influence on downstream water quality. When it rains, the stormwater causes erosion on the top of exposed soil, and when enough rain falls, the loose soil particles travel with the water and off the construction site. Soil in surface water is visible to the human eye, as well as, trash and other material, but the stormwater that passes over the construction site also picks up items that are less visible, like chemicals, vehicle oil, and fine soil particles. This water then flows into storm drains/inlets and then directly into our surrounding waterbodies, while still carrying the pollutants picked up from the construction site and other areas as it travels. To prevent pollutants from leaving construction sites, EPA has identified some key best management practices that can help to mitigate pollutants from leaving the site. 


Construction Site Planning and Management

  • Construction Sequencing
  • BMP Inspection and Maintenance following the identified schedule from within the PA Stormwater BMP Manual
  • Land Grading
  • Preserving Natural Vegetation to the maximum extent practicable


Erosion Control

  • Chemical stabilization ** last resort option, avoid excess of chemical use as much as possible
  • Compost blankets
  • Dust control
  • Geotextiles
  • Gradient terraces
  • Mulching
  • Riprap
  • Seeding
  • Sodding
  • Soil retention
  • Soil roughening
  • Temporary slope drain
  • Temporary stream crossings (if applicable)
  • Wind fences and sand fences


Runoff Control

  • Check dams
  • Grass-lined channels
  • Permanent slope diversions
  • Temporary diversion dikes


Sediment Control

  • Brush barrier
  • Compost filter berm
  • Compost filter socks
  • Construction entrance
  • Fiber rolls
  • Filter berms
  • Sediment basins and rock dams
  • Sediment filters and sediment chambers
  • Sediment traps
  • Silt fences
  • Storm drain inlet protection
  • Straw or hay bales
  • Vegetated buffers


Good Housekeeping/Materials Management

  • Concrete washout
  • General Construction Site Waste Management
  • Spill Prevention and Control Plan
  • Vehicle Maintenance and Washing Areas at Construction Sites


Please go to EPA's Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activities webpage to learn more about the permit process, and permit coverage.