Four Ways to Protect Infrastructure Sites From Storm Water

With proper planning and understanding of the jobsite, catastrophes can easily be avoided

By Tim Ham

Heading into hurricane season, which is often the time of year when the potential for storm water damage is highest, it is crucial for teams to work together to prepare construction sites and reduce the risk of damage.

Survey the Site Thoroughly

One of the first things that should be done for stormwater management is to survey the property with the specific goal to mitigate water risks. Architects and civil engineers are key team members at this phase, as they provide a high-level and technical understanding of the property and its interaction with water sources. In order to understand how run-off will occur during a rain event, these team members should get a proper layout of the area. This is usually done in conjunction with the land survey crew to ensure it is a thorough and meticulous process. It’s important to survey not only the main jobsite, but also the adjacent areas that are connected to the property. This step is often overlooked, but can help ensure all risks are taken into consideration, including how the outfalls of surrounding properties will affect the main jobsite. While these properties are not technically a part of your site, they could play a major role in how stormwater affects it. Teams will need to factor in variables, such as which direction the water would be moving during a rain event, and how it will interact with the jobsite. All of this should be done before construction even begins.

Know Your Location

There are many different ways to manage water, such as dams, temporary holding ponds, and reservoirs. The best solution will vary depending on each site, which is why it’s so important to know your location and cater to it. For example, in the summer, Florida has rain events nearly every afternoon. These recurring events can be as damaging as some hurricane storms, so it is crucial to have a plan in place for each kind of rain event the property could experience. Outside typical weather patterns, site managers should familiarize themselves with and be prepared to handle any atypical rain events as well.

Plan Every Detail

Having a detailed crisis plan is one of the most important aspects of protecting a jobsite from stormwater damage. This is where catering to your site survey and storm water pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) comes into play. Teams should take the SWPPP, which is approved and permitted by the appropriate governing body before a project begins, and stay aligned with it throughout all construction milestones. This plan will be the cornerstone of creating the proper strategies to plan for and recover from various crises at the specific jobsite, including rain events. Storm management plans should include even the smallest details, such as bringing in extra water pumps and testing devices on a routine basis to ensure the team is always prepared. Clear direction should be established for every phase of a rain event: before, during and after. It’s crucial that every team member understands what his or her role is and who the designated person is for each task. For example, individual roles should be established to ensure proper site review after a rain event to deem it is safe for the rest of the workforce to return to assess damage and repair any issues that have arisen.

Mitigate Potential Risks

Mitigating potential risks involves staying ahead of disaster. One way to accomplish this goal is to have a third-party inspector brought in weekly to do tests on the site and determine that measures determined by the district plan are properly in place. These checks will ensure that the plan is always being followed and that there is a written record of it as construction progresses. Site managers should also work closely with the local authorities to keep them up to date with the plans that are in place. This will help create a smoother process if the need to collaborate during an emerging crisis arises. Additionally, it can be helpful to know if local agencies allow best management processes (BMP) to begin prior to final approval. With the approval to implement BMPs, teams can actually implement parameter protections prior to the official kick-off of construction. This extra, proactive step in storm management could make a significant difference in how you manage turbid water on your jobsite.

Above all else, planning is key, and communicating those plans to each and every team member will ensure rain events are managed and dealt with in the safest and most efficient way possible.

Tim Ham is a senior project superintendent at Hoar Construction’s Florida Division. He has been working for Hoar Construction for 26 years and helped start the Florida Division 20 years ago. Ham works with a variety of projects in Florida including mixed-use retail, hospitality and major theme parks in Orlando

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