Reduce Stormwater Pollution by Monitoring Construction Sites

Construction sites are one of the primary sources of sediment pollution in rivers. The removal of vegetation and disturbance of the ground during normal construction activities destabilizes the soil. When it rains or the snow melts, the soil is moved off the construction site with the flowing storm water and winds up in nearby waterways. The deposition of soil into water bodies is known as sedimentation. Sedimentation results in the loss of spawning habitat, smothers the gills of aquatic organisms, and is the leading cause of water impairment in Illinois.

All construction sites over 1 acre in size are required to have a storm water permit issued by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. As a condition of the permit, the developer must prevent storm water runoff by installing certain practices called best management practices (BMPs).

Best Management Practices Include:

  • Silt fencing (to prevent soil from leaving the site)
  • Gravel exits (to prevent soil from getting on public roads)
  • Vegetation buffers along waterways (to slow the flow of storm water and protect rivers)
  • Protection of storm drain inlets (to block soil from going down storm drains)

You can view descriptions and photographs of BMPs recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

An example of effectively-installed storm water BMPs: silt fences are buried and standing up, and vegetation has been preserved.

An example of ineffectively-installed storm water BMPs: silt fences are absent along the roadway and the storm drain in the gutter is unprotected from the bare soil nearby.

An example of ineffectively-installed storm water BMPs: silt fences are absent along the roadway and the storm drain in the gutter is unprotected from the bare soil nearby.

Unfortunately, many developers do not adequately install or maintain best management practices, and many construction sites are never visited by a government inspector. However, citizens can report storm water violations to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and ask that an inspection be done.

Help monitor constructions sites in your community by joining our Stormwater Patrol program. PRN offers a half-day training program for citizens who want to learn how to monitor construction sites for proper storm water control. The program includes information on storm water permit conditions, best management practices, and what to do if a violation is observed. Please contact PRN at (217) 344-2371 or info@prairierivers.org if you would like to learn more about this training.

Post updated 10/13/08: added link