General Construction & Site Supervision

General Construction Problems

Construction sites are common sources of urban runoff pollution. Materials and wastes blown or washed into a street, gutter or storm drain flow directly to the ocean.

Sediment is the most common pollutant washed from worksites, creating multiple problems once it enters the ocean. Sediment clogs the gills of fish, blocks light transmission and increases the ocean water temperature, all of which harm aquatic creatures and disturb the food chain upon which both fish and people depend.

Sediment also carries with it other worksite pollutants such as pesticides, cleaning solvents, cement wash, asphalt and car fluids like motor oil, grease and fuel. Thus, poorly maintained vehicles and heavy equipment leaking fuel and oil on the construction site also contribute to ocean pollution.

As a contractor, site supervisor, owner or operator of a site, you may be responsible for the environmental damage caused by your subcontractors or employees.


General Business Practices

  • Keep pollutants off exposed surfaces. Place trash cans and recycling receptacles around the site.

  • Cover and maintain dumpsters. Check frequently for leaks. Place dumpsters under a roof or cover with tarps or plastic sheeting. Never clean a dumpster by hosing it down on site.

  • Keep materials out of the rain. Cover exposed piles of soil or construction materials with plastic sheeting or temporary roofs.

  • Designate one area for auto parking, vehicle refueling and routine equipment maintenance. The designated area should be well away from gutters or storm drains. Make major repairs off site.

  • Make sure potable toilets are in good working order. Check frequently for leaks.

  • Use as little water as possible for dust control.

Clean Up Spills

  • Clean up leaks, drips and other spills immediately. This will prevent contaminated soil or residue on paved surfaces.

  • Never hose down "dirty" pavement or surfaces where materials have spilled. Use dry cleanup methods whenever possible.

Advanced Planning to Prevent Pollution

  • An erosion control program, worked out before construction begins, prevents or minimizes most erosion and sedimentation problems.

  • Train your employees and subcontractors. Make these brochures available to everyone working on site. Inform subcontractors about the storm water requirements and their own responsibilities.

  • Schedule excavation and grading activities for dry weather periods.

  • Control surface runoff to reduce erosion, especially during excavation. Use drainage ditches to divert water flow.

  • Use gravel approaches to reduce soil compaction and limit the tracking of sediments into streets, where truck traffic is frequent.

  • Prevent erosion by planting fast-growing annual and perennial grasses. These will shield and bind the soil.

  • Do not remove trees or shrubs unnecessarily. They help decrease erosion.