Storm Water Pollution Prevention (SWPPP) in the City of Houston

October 10, 2017 by Shaun Theriot-Smith

Navigating construction storm water quality regulations in Houston can often be a nebulous process, especially when you are juggling other permitting requirements simultaneously. Let’s take a look at how storm water quality is managed and regulated by the City of Houston.

What are the Storm Water Pollution guidelines for my development?

For general commercial construction and property development, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program regulates point pollutant sources (i.e. storm water runoff from your property). In the State of Texas, the NPDES program is implemented by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and is referred to as the Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (TPDES). This program also governs wastewater treatment and its treated discharge into public waters.

In the Houston metro area, three agencies coordinate together to issue additional Storm Water Quality guidance as the Storm Water Quality Joint Task Force. The City of Houston, Harris County, and Harris County Flood Control together produce the Storm Water Quality Management Guidance Manual and Storm Water Management Handbook for Construction Activities which all agencies enforce within their ordinance.

The TPDES has general regulations governing rainwater runoff into an MS4 (Municipal Separate Stormwater Sewer System) from a property while it is under construction. This guidance can be found in the TPDES Construction General Permit and is used for any development disturbing greater than one acre of land. The Construction General Permit will become a part of your development’s Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP, SW3P, or SWP3).

Who needs a SWPPP?

The SWPPP will outline your civil or environmental engineer’s professional guidance on how to manage point pollution sources from leaving the site during construction. It utilizes what the industry calls Best Management Practices (BMP) to reduce or eliminate the potential for pollution to enter the MS4. BMPs are defined by the City of Houston as “schedules of activities, prohibitions of practices, maintenance procedures, and other management practices to prevent or reduce the pollution of waters of the United States”.

The SWPPP is required if your site disturbs more than 1 acre during its construction and will include a narrative report and site map that is typically included within the permitted construction documents. The SWPPP differs from the Storm Water Quality Management Plan (SWQMP), which we will cover in an upcoming blog post.

Do you have Storm water pollution prevention questions specific to your development or need to fulfill SWPPP permitting requirements? BIG RED DOG can help. Contact our experts in Houston at 832-730-1901 and we will walk you through the SWPPP process.

This post is the first of a two-part series covering storm water quality management in the City of Houston and was originally published on Shaun Theriot-Smith’s blog.

Written by Shaun Theriot-Smith

Shaun Theriot-Smith

Shaun Theriot-Smith is a Project Engineer in our Houston office. Shaun graduated from The University of Houston with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. He enjoys spending time with his wife and twin daughters.