What is an SWPPP? What is a stormwater pollution prevention plan?

Written By: Doug Ruhlin | Dec 16, 2014

Time to Read 7 Minutes

Learn what SWPPP & Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans are.

One of the worst parts of the environmental world is the alphabet soup of regulatory acronyms. NPDES. EPCRA. TRI. SPCC. EPA. DEQ. This list goes on and on and on. This is compounded by the fact that you are expected by the government to understand and follow these rules, despite decades of poor outreach and education on their part. One of the most common questions we get asked about involves stormwater permits, and the documentation surrounding them. Specifically, I'm referring to SWPPP (pronounced "swip" in our offices), which is short for Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans.

So, if you aren't sure what an SWPPP is, read on, and let's get you squared away.

What is a stormwater pollution prevention plan?

What does SWPPP stand for?

Again, SWPPP stands for Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan.

And again, we usually hear it referred to as a "swip". Some folks call it a S-W-P-3, or just say the letters S-W-P-P-P.

Regardless of what you call it, it's (almost always) short for "Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan".

Why do I need a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan?

The simple answer is because it's the law. If you're covered under a stormwater permit, chances are pretty good that permit requires you have an SWPPP. But why do you need a permit in the first place? Great question! Check out What is a stormwater permit? to learn more about that.

What is a stormwater pollution prevention plan?

Think of it as your guidebook of practices that you will use at your location or project to make sure that the stormwater discharged off your location is as clean and unpolluted as possible. These practices are commonly called "Best Management Practices" or stormwater BMPs, and there is almost an infinite number of them. Some are universal for every facility, some are site-specific, some won't work well for you, while others might work great! You'll need to figure out which stormwater BMPs really work best for your facility or location on an almost case-by-case basis. We go into detail about BMPs in this article: What are the best stormwater BMPs?

So your plan will be loaded with information on how to handle your facility in order to keep stormwater pollution to a minimum, but what's it actually look like? In almost every case we've ever seen, a stormwater plan is really nothing more than a notebook or binder, with written out stormwater BMPs along with some form of site plans which detail how you ensure any stormwater discharged from your site is as clean and free of pollutants as possible.

Beyond stormwater BMPs and site maps, your plan usually involves some additional required components. For example, before you know which BMPs will be most effective at your site, you'll need to know what your potential sources of pollution are. Meaning, what do you have on-site that could be carried away by stormwater? Is there dust from an industrial process? Do you have stockpiles of materials that get rained on? Your plan also wants to know who will be involved in the stormwater program. You're required to keep detailed information on when, how, and where people involved in the program get training. It's not just a good idea, stormwater training is a required part of virtually every permit in the country. And you can get in trouble if you don't do it. There's some other information crammed in there too, which isn't overly complicated but shouldn't be taken lightly either.

Just be aware, stormwater permits are controlled by the states, so some types of NPDES stormwater permits might require something different in your stormwater plan. Maybe it's an engineered site plan or specific BMPs that must be implemented and followed for discharging into an impaired waterway.

What is a SWPPP?

Where can I learn more about MY Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan?

Your stormwater permit! It will outline the requirements you'll need to meet at your location. They can vary wildly, depending on your industry, where you're discharging to, your state, etc. It's always a great idea to read your permit, understand your plan, and make sure there are no grey areas. Whenever we work with a client on stormwater services, the first place we turn to is the permit covering their operation or location. You should too.

So what is an SWPPP? It's one of the most common components of your environmental program, regardless of who you are, what you do, and where you're located. Understanding what it really is, its purpose, and what it's meant to do is key to operating a facility that stays free from trouble.

Need additional information on stormwater permits?

We get it, stormwater permits can be a pain to deal with. If you're still a little fuzzy on your stormwater permit and the rules and regulations that come along with it, be sure to check out some of these other helpful articles:

Need more help with your SWPPP and stormwater permit?

That's a lot to take in, right? If you're overwhelmed, you're not alone. RMA has been actively involved in helping companies get and stay in compliance since our founding in 1992. Long story short, we know the ins and outs of the environmental problems industrial and commercial facilities face and can help you get into compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations, ensuring your business stays out of trouble and in compliance.

Our staff members have been on-site at thousands of commercial and industrial operations across the country, so when we say we've seen it all and done it all, we mean it. We've helped everyone, from globe-spanning, multi-national organizations to small "mom & pop" operations. No matter your size, industry, or location, we'd love to learn how we can help.

So, if you're having any type of issue at your operation and need the help of an environmental consulting firm with a proven track record, reach out. Even if we can't help, we'' do our best to steer you in the right direction.

Feel free to contact us at info@rmagreen.com, click here to contact us, or give us a call anytime at 888-RMA-0230 to learn how we can help your operation deal with environmental regulations.

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