Nearly forty years after the Clean Water Act (CWA) was passed, we've come a long way in our understanding of the strength and fragility of our water resources and the impact that our actions or inactions can have on them. Though regulatory systems are in place and best management practices (BMPs) are plentiful, successfully managing risk in environmental compliance remains a constant concern.
Fortunately, the rules to environmental compliance are simple: half of it is paperwork and the other half is maintenance. If you take an organized and balanced approach to compliance, you should be able to keep risk at bay and avoid enforcement action. However, remember that no matter how thoroughly you prepare for a construction project, you may still encounter unexpected situations requiring environmental knowledge and understanding.
As you start to plan your operation, you should take the time to stop and consider the risk associated with your project. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers risk to be “the chance of harmful effects to human health or to ecological systems resulting from exposure to the environmental stressor.” The “stressors” are a variety of physical, chemical, or biological activities that can cause negative reactions to ecosystems and the environment. 1
In order to limit, and hopefully prevent, risky situations, the key is to assess and target the problems that could arise and then implement a system of metrics that help with prevention.