Adhering to regulations and best practices for stormwater management is crucial for utility-scale solar projects. One of the critical requirements related to this is a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP). A SWPPP is a federally mandated plan that’s necessary whenever you disturb one or more acres of land during your solar project. You must follow the plan in addition to any local stormwater management requirements in your area.
This article will cover what a SWPPP is, the best management practices (BMPs) for solar sites, and provide four valuable tips to enhance your SWPPP permit process.
What Is a SWPPP?
A SWPPP, or Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, is a document that outlines how to manage and prevent stormwater pollution from construction sites during and after a project. It’s a crucial component for solar projects, as it helps protect the environment by ensuring that runoff from your site doesn’t carry harmful pollutants into nearby bodies of water.
A SWPPP safeguards water sources by pinpointing potential pollutants at a construction site, providing workers with safety plans, and outlining best management practices (BMPs) to follow.
Solar SWPPP Best Management Practices (BMPs)
Implementing the right BMPs is essential for managing stormwater on your solar site and for the success of your SWPPP. Some common BMPs for solar projects include straw wattles, silt fences, and intelligently designed drainage systems. These measures help control erosion and prevent pollutants from entering nearby water bodies.
In addition to using BMPs, here are four more tips to help you improve your SWPPP and ensure the success of your solar project.
1. Minimize Earth Disturbance
Reducing the extent of earth disturbance on your solar site is a fundamental step to simplify the SWPPP process. The more you can avoid destructive practices like mass grading for your project, the easier it will be to meet the requirements of your SWPPP and avoid delays.
When it comes to eliminating grading and overall environmental disturbance, the Nevados All Terrain TrackerⓇ(ATTⓇ) is a game-changer. Its innovative design allows you to minimize grading thanks to its articulating bearings and non-continuous torque tubes. The ATTⓇ can be installed on overall slopes of up to 37% in any direction with slope changes of up to 26% at each post. This technology helps preserve the land’s natural contours and reduce your solar farm’s environmental impact.
2. Restabilize the Soil
According to Dr. Owen Ransom, an experienced civil engineer and founder of Sierra Overhead Analytics, one common mistake made by many engineering, procurement, and construction firms (EPCs) is waiting until the final mechanical approval of the solar farm to spread seeds and restabilize the soil.
By spreading the revegetation matrix earlier in the construction process, you increase the chances of the vegetation being established when it’s time to close out your SWPPP permit. If you fail to restabilize the soil by the time your project is complete, you will be forced to keep your construction permits open — adding unnecessary costs and administrative work for your team.
3. Optimize Construction Timelines
While you can’t control the weather, you can optimize your construction timelines to minimize the risk of encountering heavy rainfall or other adverse weather events. To do so, you’ll want to time your construction activities during drier seasons (if possible) and take proactive measures to prevent delays, such as choosing components that are easy to install.
The Nevados All Terrain TrackerⓇ, with its uniform foundations, can be installed at chest height without the need for special tools or equipment. Plus, its self-aligning bearings and module clips can save your team valuable time during construction, ensuring you can complete your solar project within the desired timeframe and avoid costly delays.
4. Communicate With Your Contractors and Subcontractors
Effective communication with your contractors and subcontractors is essential to success with a SWPPP. Regarding grading and ground disturbance, it’s crucial to outline your expectations clearly. Verify that they can complete the job as specified by your environmental engineer. For instance, if you only need to grade a 100-yard area, your subcontractor should use smaller, more precise equipment than they would for a 500-yard area. Similarly, if you only need to remove vegetation down to 3 inches, ensure your sub-contractor knows not to remove vegetation and root balls completely.
Optimizing your SWPPP permit is essential for the success of your solar project. You can streamline the process and reduce costs by understanding SWPPP requirements, utilizing BMPs, minimizing earth disturbance, restabilizing soil, optimizing construction timelines, and communicating effectively with contractors. By following these four tips, you’ll speed up your SWPPP permit process, avoid costly delays, and save yourself from potential fines — all while contributing to a more sustainable solar industry.
Streamline Your SWPPP With Nevados
The Nevados All Terrain TrackerⓇ is a complete solar tracking solution for utility-scale projects. Its industry-leading engineering helps you eliminate grading and reduce site work costs without sacrificing durability or performance. For EPCs, this means you can simplify your SWPPP, streamline construction, and avoid costly grading.
Contact us to learn more about how the ATTⓇ can help improve stormwater management for your next solar project.