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Contractor Training and Certification

Minimum Measure: Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control

Subcategory: Municipal Program Oversight

Photo Description:  Municipalities can establish training programs to train and certify contractors

Description

One of the most important factors determining whether erosion and sediment control BMPs are properly installed and maintained is the knowledge and experience of the on-site contractor who is implementing and inspecting the BMPs. To ensure a high level of expertise, many communities require formal certification for on-site contractors. These certified private contractors can then be used to lessen the community's inspection burden.

Several states have contractor certification programs, three of which are detailed below. Delaware requires that at least one person (on any construction project greater than 50 acres) be formally certified as a construction reviewer. Other projects could be required to have a certified construction reviewer on-site if deemed necessary by the plan approval agency or the state. All state and federal projects in Delaware must use a certified construction reviewer. All certified construction reviewers must function under the direction of a licensed professional engineer. Certified construction reviewers must complete, within 5 years, a training program sponsored or approved by Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). Certified construction reviewers are required to inspect the construction site at least weekly and report violations to the operator. If the operator fails to address the items, the certified construction reviewer must inform the regulating agency. If the certified construction reviewer fails to perform these duties, the certification can be revoked. For a description of the certification program, see Delaware Sediment and Stormwater Regulations Exit EPA Site.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) offers a nonregulatory, incentive-driven program to broaden the use of effective erosion control techniques. The Voluntary Contractor Certification Program (VCCP) is open to any contractor involved with soil-disturbance activities like filling, excavating, landscaping, and other types of earthworks. For initial certification, the contractor must attend training courses and successfully complete a construction site evaluation. To maintain certification, the holder must complete a minimum of one four-hour continuing education course every two-years thereafter. Certification entitles the holder to forgo the 14-day waiting period for Soil Disturbance and Stream Crossing Projects. This allows contractors with certified individuals to start work sooner than those who are not certified. Certification also enables a contractor to advertise as a "DEP Certified Contractor" on the MDEP website. This list is available for distribution to the public, state agencies, and other interested persons. All certified individuals can also obtain any publication from the Nonpoint Source Training and Resource Center Library at no charge. Local soil and water conservation district personnel can perform construction site evaluations even if there is a certified contractor on-site. For more information about this program, see the MDEP Exit EPA Site website.

The Florida Stormwater, Erosion, and Sedimentation Control Inspector Training Program is intended to improve the design, construction, and maintenance of erosion and sediment controls during construction, and to assure the proper long-term operation and maintenance of stormwater management systems after construction is completed. The program provides training to private and public employees. It is primarily directed towards inspectors and contractors, but it is also relevant to permit reviewers, public works personnel, and engineers. The program curriculum educates inspectors on the proper installation, inspection, and maintenance of BMPs used during and after construction. The training program is a two-day class, and it follows the curriculum provided in the Florida Stormwater, Erosion, and Sedimentation Control Inspector's Manual. After completing the class, inspectors must pass an exam with a minimum score of 70 percent to obtain the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) certification. FDEP-approved instructors voluntarily teach the inspector training class throughout the year. For more information, see Florida Stormwater, Erosion, and Sedimentation Control Inspector Training & Certification Program Exit EPA Site.

Applicability

At a minimum, training and certification programs help to ensure that plans are properly implemented and that BMPs are properly installed and maintained. In addition, private inspector training and certification programs might be appropriate for municipalities with limited funding or resources for program implementation. Certifed contractors could act as private inspectors and reduce the burden on the governing agency. The municipality could require that private inspectors be used for larger, more complicated projects.

Implementation

Private contractor training can be accomplished through municipally sponsored training courses, through informal, mandatory pre-construction or pre-wintering meetings, and during regular and final inspection visits to transfer information to contractors (Brown and Caraco, 1997). To implement a contractor certification program, the governing agency should establish course requirements, mandate periodic recertification, review reports submitted by private inspectors, conduct spot checks for accuracy, and institute fines or other penalties for noncompliance.

Effectiveness

State implementing contractor certification programs are well received. Florida implemented a training program in late 1997, and today it has more than 6,500 certified inspectors. Although the effectiveness of training and certification programs has not been discretely measured, there has been a large response to Delaware's certification program. Within six years of implementing the program, 340 people had been certified (CWP, 1997).

Benefits

A contractor training and certification program can help improve compliance with erosion and sediment control programs by increasing contractor awareness and education. Private inspector training programs can also help decrease the overall inspection burden of local regulatory agencies, thereby allowing staff to prioritize inspections and concentrate on the most critical projects.

Limitations

Contractor certification and inspector training programs can require a substantial effort on the part of the municipality or regulatory agency. Agency staff may need to develop or adopt a curricula for the training courses, they may need to teach the courses, and they may need to ensure that certified inspectors are fulfilling their obligations and performing adequate inspections. To minimize the time necessary for curricula development and administration, an agency could require completion of other local, regional, or state curricula and courses.

Cost Considerations

Costs for contractor certification and training will vary widely depending on the type of training and certification programs implemented. However, the municipality might save money if there is a decreased need for municipal inspections and if there are fewer enforcement actions due to higher compliance.

References

Brown, W.E., and D.S. Caraco. 1997. Muddy Water In, Muddy Water Out? A Critique of Erosion and Sediment Control Plans. Watershed Protection Techniques 2(3):393-403.

CWP (Center for Watershed Protection). 1997. Technical Note No. 85. Delaware Program Improves Construction Site Inspection: A Private Inspector Multiplies Compliance Workforce. Watershed Protection Techniques 2(3):440-442.

DNREC (Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control). No date. Section 13 Contractor Certification Program. Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Dover, DE. [http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/services/Pages/Contractor.aspx Exit EPA Site]. Accessed October 27, 2008.

MDEP (Maine Department of Environmental Protection). 1999. Maine Department of Environmental Protection Issue Profile: Voluntary Contractor Certification Program. Maine Department of the Environment, Bureau of Land and Water Quality, Portland, ME. [http://www.maine.gov/dep/land/training/ip-vccp.html Exit EPA Site]. Accessed December 1, 2005.

Smolen, M.D., D.W. Miller, L.C. Wyatt, J. Lichthardt, and A.L. Lanier. 1988. Erosion and Sediment Control Planning and Design Manual. North Carolina Sedimentation Control Commission; North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources; and Division of Land Resources, Land Quality Section, Raleigh, NC.

 

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