What permits and plans do I need?
Patterns and Trends
Because of the large number of projects we manage, our inspection team often sees patterns and trends in enforcement and compliance management that we’d like to share with you. This is one way we use our specialization to benefit our clients. Because a Summit inspector sees dozens of projects a year, and because Summit inspects over 150 active projects at any given time, we get to see the good, the bad, and the ugly in the stormwater compliance world.
Avoid the Confusion
While this is a big topic with lots of unique scenarios based on where you build, we can share a simple description of the basics so that we can avoid having gaps in your compliance documents. Here’s what you need to know: For more than 90% of projects we see, the project owner will need to meet both local and state stormwater requirements.
Let’s look at the state first, because there is less variation to consider. Every project that disturbs over an acre of ground, OR is part of a larger common plan of development, will need a state permit (Colorado Discharge Permit).
Each site that obtains a CSDP will require a plan called a SWMP (Stormwater Management Plan). Note that if you are coming from another state, Colorado’s SWMP is essentially the same as the SWPPP you may be familiar with from other states. ( a SWPPP is a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan).
With over 50 cities and counties in the Denver Metro area alone, there is much more variability in the permit requirements. Too much to detail in this Keep It Simple post. However,if you need a state SWMP, you will almost certainly need a stormwater permit from the city or county in which you build. Summit or your civil engineer can help review what is needed for a specific project.
Local Stormwater Plan
The locally required plan will go by different names. GESC (Grading, Erosion, and Sediment Control plan) plans are a requirement in many different cities and counties in Colorado. In other jurisdictions, having a BMP (Best Management Practices) plan or an Erosion Control plan as part of your civil plans is adequate. But to return to the simplified take-aways, just remember that you need both the state and local permits. If you do not have this in place, you should call Summit to check the status of your paperwork
Where is the confusion? It seems that getting the local permit and plan is more likely to happen in the proper way because the local jurisdiction is in frequent communication with the owner/developer throughout the planning and construction permitting process, even to the point of not allowing groundbreaking until the local stormwater permits and plans are in place. In contrast, the when a state stormwater permit is obtained, the owner signs off on language stating that a SWMP has been developed and agreeing to be held to the requirements of the SWMP plan. But, the state does not require the SWMP to be submitted during the permit application process and therefore does not review the SWMP. Instead, to enforce consistency, the state depends on its (mostly) random process of performing inspections at sites with an active permit.
So the confusion often stems from owners and developers thinking that having the local stormwater permit and plan also satisfies the state requirement. It does not.
A second place of confusion is thinking that having a state stormwater permit with a local plan is adequate. It is not.
A third way we see confusion creeping in is when a site map with BMPs is considered to be the SWMP, but an actual SWMP narrative is missing.
I know this is a lot to take in and the language is not precise. Look for more posts about permits, plans, and stormwater requirements on this blog. Of course, you can contact Summit through this web site any time you have a question. We’ll be happy to give you personalized answers