Monday, May 4, 2015

Conservation Districts assist local contractors with NRCS guidelines

By: Jennifer Thum (ISDA) 

Indiana’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts are responsible for the review of erosion and sediment control plans that are submitted to them.  The purpose of the Rule 5 general permit is to establish requirements to protect state waters from adverse effects of stormwater discharge from construction activities.  Each district is unique on how they handle the erosion permit review process.  In the northeast portion of the state, there are some districts that handle all the reviews and site inspections, some just review the plans, and some rely on the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to review the plans.  Like any relationship, communication is the key to make sure both parties understand their role in what is required of them.  In order to make the review process easier on both the contractors and SWCD staff, several northeast SWCDs organized and held “contractor breakfasts” during the first quarter of this year.

The Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Miami, Howard, and Wabash hosted a Contractors Workshop on Thursday, February 12th, held in Peru.  This workshop featured information on drainage water management, Bio-reactors, 2-stage ditches and rip-rap, as well as pre-construction and Installation Guidance.  One of the highlights was Amie Lester, NRCS CDT Leader and Engineer.  Amie talked about the rip-rap sizing and the problems that they were having with the rock specifications and the local quarries.  Amie told the audience what size rock to specifically ask for when they are working on an NRCS project.  Duane Riethman, NRCS NE Area Engineer talked about drainage water management, bio-reactors, and showed some before and after pictures of a farm field where a 2-stage ditch was installed.

Figure 1: Contractors’ listening to Duane Riethman, NRCS.
Picture taken by Sarah Lake, ISDA

Figure 2: Contractors' listening to Amie Lester, NRCS.
Picture taken by Sarah Lake, ISDA

The Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Stormwater Management Partners of Elkhart, Kosciusko and St. Joseph hosted a spring contractor workshop on February 24th in Nappanee.  That workshop featured topics on “Why is Erosion Control Important?” and “Financing Erosion Control.”  The contractors heard from Dr. Nathan Bosch on why erosion control is so important to our safety and welfare.

Both events were a HUGE success and the contractors in the room walked away with knowledge and a better understanding of the SWCDs role in the construction world.  In addition, both events had ample time for the contractors to speak with the Rule 5 reviewers. 

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