Idaho Construction is Booming: Contractors, Don’t Forget Stormwater Management

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While New York and California remain two of the most popular places, they’re not the fastest-growing states. The title belongs to Idaho, whose number of residents increased by 2.1% in 2018. The national average was less than a percent.

With a growing population comes a rising demand for homes. Proof of that is the increasing value of residential properties in Idaho. According to Zillow, it ballooned by 9.5% in 2019. Even if it lowers in 2020, the state will still be a hot market.

The population boom can benefit the construction industry. But builders need to do their job prudently and responsibly. One of these is to update their stormwater management plan for Idaho.

What’s the Connection between Stormwater and Construction?

Stormwater refers to runoffs from torrential rain and snow, which the state gets a lot each year. The national snowfall average is only 38 inches annually. In the Gem State, it’s an inch more.

Water heeds to the law of gravity, which means if it comes from the mountains, it travels downward. It also needs a way out, or otherwise, the risk of flooding increases.

In a perfect world, stormwater moves toward storm drain and into rivers, lakes, and reservoirs without a hitch. But in reality, this water isn’t clean. It picks up much dirt, debris, and other waste as it travels. In urban areas where construction sites are abundant, stormwater can even promote different kinds of erosion:

  • Heavy rain can loosen soil particles.
  • The significant flow of water can disturb an already-unstable stream or riverbank.
  • Freely moving water can erode a large plot of land uniformly in a process called sheet erosion or wash. It is more common in hilly or sloping areas.

Experiencing the After-Effects

Two miners on site

What happens when construction sites fail to follow stormwater management protocols? These are the possible scenarios:

1. Contaminants Can Pollute Other Bodies of Water

A 2019 study by the American Chemical Society revealed that urban stormwater could contaminate surface and groundwater. The team discovered that this water runoff could contain at least 500 kinds of chemicals. Previous studies already showed that besides pesticides, pollutants could include industrial chemicals, some of which used in construction.

One of these is the pavement seal coat, according to the University of New Hampshire researchers. This product bonds well with organic matter and sediments. When they end up in the lakes, for example, marine life could eat them.

Pollutants can disturb the marine ecosystem, making the waters unfit for either consumption or leisure. Pollution can also reach homes by contaminating the water supply.

2. Developers Will Pay a Hefty Fine

The lack of proper planning for stormwater management can cause a considerable fine. In 2018, a Boise developer had to cough up over $65,000 as a penalty for violating the Clean Water Act.

Fines can create a dent not only on the business’s cash flow but also on its reputation and credibility. They can delay projects, further driving up labor costs and hurting the client-developer relationship.

According to Idaho law, builders, contractors, or developers may already need to secure an NPDES permit if they are working on at least an acre of land. These activities may include grading, clearing, or excavating. Having a stormwater management plan in place will hasten the permit process and ensure the site and the community remain safe.

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