Blog - Rincon Consultants, Inc.

Complying with Different Stormwater Requirements in California

Posted on Fri, Jun 14, 2013


In order for Rincon to meet our client’s stormwater compliance needs during construction, it is important to understand the different requirements of the state, counties, and cities in California. Under the State of California Construction General Permit (CGP), construction or demolition activity resulting in land disturbance equal to or greater than one acre (or less than 1 acre if part of a common plan of development) will be regulated with project-specific requirements. Furthermore, several counties and cities in California have adopted storm water programs with specific standards and requirements that apply in addition to the CGP requirements. The Ventura Countywide Municipal Stormwater (Ventura MS4) Permit Development Construction Program is a great example.

If a project causes soil disturbance during construction or demolition activities and falls within any of the following categories, the site will be required to comply with the Ventura MS4 Permit.

  • Small construction sites (less than 1 acre of soil disturbance)
  • Large construction sites (1 acre or greater but less than 5 acres of soil disturbance)
  • Over 5 acres of soil disturbance
  • High risk sites (determined by site location and conditions) 

All construction sites (small or large) must implement an effective combination of erosion and sediment control Best Management Practices (BMPs) to prevent erosion and sediment loss and the discharge of construction wastes for the construction site. BMP consideration is site specific and implementation will depend on site conditions and type of development. For further information regarding these BMPs please visit: Ventura County MS4 Permit, and Tables 6, 7 and 8 for BMP considerations 

Project Type/Size

Regulated Under Ventura MS4 Permit

Regulated Under CA CGP

< 1 acre


Only if part of a common plan of development that is ≥ 1 acre

≥ 1 acre



High Risk Projects


If ≥ 1 acre or part of a common plan of development that is ≥ 1 acre


Understanding the Permits: Permittees are regulated under the Ventura MS4 Permit for all soil disturbance during construction or demolition activities. Permittees will also be subject to California CGP regulation if the project is greater than one acre of soil disturbance or is less than one acre but part of a larger common plan of development (greater than one acre). In this case, no additional planning is necessary since the site-specific Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) that is written to satisfy the State CGP requirements and BMP implementation considerations (refer to Tables 6-8 above) for the specific construction site can also be used to satisfy Ventura County requirements.

When ensuring stormwater compliance, it is a great idea to look into other counties and cities in California that have also adopted similar stormwater programs. For instance, the City of Santa Barbara has also implemented a program called: Storm Water Management Program (SWMP), which was created to reduce the discharge of non-point source pollutants into local creeks and the ocean by implementing six minimum control measures that are outlined and required in the California CGP. For further stormwater permit and program information please visit your local government and State Water Resources Control Board websites.

Have questions about stormwater compliance? Download Rincon's Stormwater Management Flyer or contact us.

Topics: SWPPP, Ventura MS4, SWMP, BMP, stormwater, Construction, water, California Construction General Permit, Storm Water Management Program, storm, CGP, Best Management Practices

CRAM Wetland Assessment Completed in Santa Barbara

Posted on Tue, Nov 22, 2011

describe the imageRincon biologists recently completed an assessment of a habitat restoration site along Mission Creek in Santa Barbara, implementing the California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM) for wetlands.  This assessment was completed for the Ortega Bridge Replacement project, for which Rincon has conducted biological monitoring over the past year.  Implementation of the CRAM method for the project will provide baseline data on the condition of the restoration site for comparison to future assessments, to monitor the progress of the site over time.

The CRAM method is used to assess wetland condition based on a number of attributes, including buffer and landscape context, hydrology, physical structure, and biological structure. Recent requirements by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other resource agencies have necessitated CRAM assessMissionCrkCRAM 005ments, in association with wetland boundary delineations, prior to project-related impacts or as an additional monitoring tool for habitat restoration/mitigation projects.  One of the other main purposes of the CRAM method is to allow for the comparison of wetland condition status and trends throughout the state.  To this end, data collected in the field is uploaded to “eCRAM”, a data entry system that interfaces with the CRAM website.

CRAM assessments must be completed by trained practitioners.  Please contact Rincon Consultants if you have any questions regarding CRAM assessments or any other biological services.

Topics: Construction, Rincon Biologist, CRAM

What is a SWPPP and Does Your Project Need One?

Posted on Fri, Sep 16, 2011

New Requirements In Effect September 2, 2011

Silt Fence SWPPPStorm Water Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs) are a requirement of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) that regulates water quality when associated with construction or industrial activities.  The SWPPP addresses all pollutants and their sources, including sources of sediment associated with construction, construction site erosion, and all other activities associated with construction activity and controlled through the implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs).

The new Construction General Permit (CGP), effective September 2, 2011, requires SWPPPs to be prepared for construction sites over one (1) acre of disturbed area

The new Permit requires the following:

1.  Qualifications and Training.  All SWPPPs must be prepared and certified by a Qualified SWPPP Developer (QSD) and many other SWPPP tasks (i.e. inspections) must either be conducted directly by, or under the supervision of a QSD or Qualified SWPPP Practitioner (QSP).  There are extensive qualification and training requirements for both the QSD and QSP.

2.  Risk Level DeterminationThe CGP follows a risk-based permitting approach.

    • Each project is evaluated for sediment discharge risk and receiving water risk.
    • Permit requirements progressively increase with risk level.
    • Risk Level 2 and 3 sites must collect storm water samples and analyze the samples for pH and turbidity.
    • The greater the risk level the greater the permitting requirements (i.e. monitoring, sampling, and BMPs).

3.  Numeric Action Limits (NAL) and Numeric Effluent Limitations (NEL).  Risk Level 2 and 3 sites must test runoff for pH and turbidity.  

    • Evaluation of BMPs and corrective action is required when NALs are exceeded. 
    • An NEL exceedance is a violation of the Construction General Permit, which can result in enforcement action by the local Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB).

4.  Rain Event Action Plans (REAP). 

    • A REAP must be prepared for Risk Level 2 and 3 sites 48 hours prior to a rain forecast of 50% probability.
    • The REAP is designed to protect the site from erosion and to prevent discharge of pollutants.
    • The REAP defines the storm water sampling activities and suggested actions for each construction phase.
    • For Risk Level 2 and 3 sites all discharge points must be sampled at least three times a day during rain events.

5.  Inspections.  Inspections shall be performed:

    • Weekly throughout the project, and
    • Before and after qualifying rain events, and
    • During extended qualifying rain events
    • To identify BMPs that need maintenance or could fail.  Inspectors shall be the QSP, or be trained by the QSP.  Note that some Caltrans Districts require all inspections to be conducted by a QSP.

6.  SMARTS (Storm Water Multiple Application Reporting and Tracking System).

    • SMARTS is used for processing, reviewing, updating, tracking, and maintaining the status of each discharger.
    • Each project’s Legally Responsible Person (LRP) is responsible for certifying project related documents on SMARTS.
    • The general public can access SMARTS to review project related materials and track SWPPP compliance.

If you have questions about SWPPPs and whether or not your project requires one, please contact Torin Snyder, QSD/P at 760-918-9444.


Topics: SWPPP, Caltrans, Construction

New SWPPP Construction General Permit – 2009-0009

Posted on Wed, Jul 7, 2010

As of July 1, 2010, the wholly new federal Construction General Permit 2009-0009-DWQ became effective. All construction projects that disturb one or more acres of land are required to obtain coverage under the new permit.

The new permit requires the development and implementation of a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) similar to the former permit. Two important new elements have been included. First, the SWPPP must be written, amended, and certified by a Qualified SWPPP Developer (QSD). The QSD must be a Licensed Engineer, Geologist, or Landscape Architect with the State of California or a Certified Hydrologist, Professional in Storm Water Quality (CPSWQ), or Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control (CPESC). Second, construction projects will be assigned a Risk Level (Risk Level 1 – 3) based on site characteristics for erosion potential, threat to "receiving waters”, and the time of year that the project activity would occur. The project Risk Level determines compliancy requirements set forth in the permit.

The Rincon Consultants storm water compliance team can assist you or answer questions regarding the new Construction General Permit and is ready to help with your storm water compliance needs. Please call our Qualified SWPPP Developer Torin Snyder, at 760-918-9444 or our Qualified SWPPP Practitioner Julie Broughton, at 805-641-1000.

Topics: Planners, Construction