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Water Quality Tips for Construction

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General Tips

Uncontrolled stormwater runoff from construction sites can significantly impact creeks, rivers, and eventually the ocean. By following the tips below you can help minimize and prevent pollution from construction sites:

Protect Natural Features

  • Minimize clearing and the amount of exposed soil. Identify and protect areas where existing vegetation, such as trees, will not be disturbed by construction activity.
  • Keep your liquid waste segregated. Many fluids can be recycled via hazardous waste disposal companies if they are not mixed.
  • Protect local waterways, wild lands, and other sensitive areas from any disturbance or construction activity by fencing or otherwise clearly marking these areas.

Construction Phasing

  • Sequence construction activities so that the soil is not exposed for long periods of time.
  • Schedule or limit grading to small areas.
  • Install key sediment control practices before site grading begins.
  • Schedule site stabilization activities, such as landscaping, to be completed immediately after the land has been graded to its final contour.

Vegetative Buffers

  • Protect and install vegetative buffers along water bodies to slow and filter stormwater runoff.
  • Maintain buffers by mowing or replanting periodically to ensure their effectiveness.

Site Stabilization

  • Vegetate, mulch, or otherwise stabilize all exposed areas as soon as land alterations have been completed.

Storm Drain Inlet Protection

  • Use rock (usually 1 to 2 inches in diameter) or other appropriate material to cover the storm drain inlet to filter out trash and debris.
  • If you use inlet filters, maintain them regularly.

Dirt Stockpiles

  • Cover or seed all dirt piles


  • Rough grade or terrace slopes.
  • Break up long slopes with sediment barriers, or under drain, or divert stormwater away from slopes.

Construction Entrances

  • Remove mud and dirt from the tires of construction vehicles before they enter a paved roadway.
  • Make sure that the construction entrance does not become buried in soil.

Silt Fencing

  • Inspect and maintain silt fences after each rainstorm and make sure the bottom of the silt fence is buried in the ground.
  • Securely attach the material to the stakes.
  • Don’t place silt fences in the middle of a waterway or use them as a check dam and make sure stormwater is not flowing around the silt fence.