Apr 03, 2020

Navigating Government Regulations in the Storm Water Sector

Standard storm water and erosion control regulations are always evolving and are different for many states and regions. 

Storm water and erosion control regulations often vary by state.
Storm water and erosion control regulations often vary by state.

As government regulations evolve, municipalities and manufacturers must evolve as well. 

SWS spoke with Rodney Wynn, who was previously with the Maryland Department of Transportation and is currently working with East Coast Erosion Control to help the team navigate DOT compliance. 

Wynn takes us back to the basics and offers insight on how to handle changing compliance. Additionally, Wynn oversees a web-based tool on the East Coast Erosion website that organizes DOT standards, APLs/QPLs, etc.


SWS: What are some key things to keep in mind when navigating compliance that people might forget?

Wynn: Ensuring you have the latest updated state specification and/or supplements and erosion control installation field guidelines. In addition, determine if the state has a Best Practice Method for erosion control materials and installations. Most states put out a specification book once every three to five years, but when guidelines change, they put out supplements, so the supplements supersede the specifications when appropriate. 


SWS: Do you think that states handle their storm water regulations well or does more need to be done?

Wynn: I think that most states handled them as appropriately (as possible), and I think the most important thing to keep in mind is each state is different. So places where I would say that the area’s flat or maybe a little drier, speaking like Arizona or Nevada, where you might not have as much of a need as places like Minnesota, Maryland, Pennsylvania, where maybe it's a little more wet because of the different seasons that are involved. I would believe that each state is doing its best to try to handle it accordingly to their needs, but I also think there is additional work that needs to be done because we should continue to explore applications economically, to be more friendly to the environment and to reduce our footprint as much as possible and be aware of the surrounding wildlife and avoid endangering any as we move down this path. 


SWS: How have changes in the storm water industry affected the way regulations are updated and handled?

Wynn: When I first started out in the business, 32 to 33 years ago, we were using riprap. Riprap is a really nice name for large rocks, and that’s how we were stabilizing the erosion control, which was obviously not cost effective from any perspective and also it really didn’t get the job done. But it was the only tool that we were aware of at the time, so progress over time allows us to implement different tools, such as erosion control matting, such as blocks, and other materials that are currently on the market, and once they’re on the market then we have to identify the best applications, then we have to identify the best methods for installations. So, I would say over the last 10 years, we have a very good idea of the best applications and the best methods for insulation because you have channels, you have slopes, and we’ve become technological enough where we can direct these variations and have the installation of the best products with the best message.


SWS: Do you think product manufacturers are changing the way they make items to be more environmentally friendly?

Wynn: I think they are aware of it, and they are utilizing their resources or becoming more innovative with these types of solutions as well because for a while, a lot of the nets were plastic. They were not biodegradable, and we have moved the industry. I would say a large part of the products are biodegradable now. There are very few products in the market that have plastic netting, so I do believe the manufacturers are becoming more environmentally friendly and looking at innovative technology to become even more environmentally friendly. At least I hope so. I would like to believe that. 


SWS: You talked about bureaucracy as a challenge professionals face when trying to meet regulations. How can they overcome this?

Wynn: By building rapport with individuals who are currently in these positions. One of the challenging things right now is that the players are constantly changing internally for the states. It’s like professional baseball where you need a score card every week to determine whose playing. That’s how often this is changing. 


SWS: Can you talk about the web-based tool?

Wynn: This is the vision of East Coast Erosion Control (ECEC), LLC President, Ms. Diane Smith. One of Diane’s goals is to provide real time data for customers internally & externally (DOT agencies, designers, distributors, suppliers, and ECEC personnel).  We live in a society where accurate and real time information/data is vital.  People want information/data now and at their fingertips (Smart phones, computers, and laptops). 

(On East Coast’s website) Select the web link DOT Approvals. All states are listed and so is Alberta, Canada. In addition, ECEC has included a link to the Erosion Control Technology Council. Also, the ECTC list products meeting their specifications on their web page.  There are three categories on the DOT Approvals website; Specifications and/or Supplements, ECEC Approved Products and Approved Products List (APL) and/or Qualified Products List (QPL).  This is a one stop shop for state specifications and /or supplements and the latest APL and/or QPL data for erosion control information. 


SWS: How does it help professionals?   

Wynn: It is the latest erosion control data located in one location that is applicable. State agencies can review their neighboring states requirements for acceptance (specifications & supplements) and products currently approved. The above information is also applicable to designers, distributors and suppliers. In addition, ECEC also has an app called EC Designer 2.0 to support customers with real time designing installations.


SWS: Bringing it back to regulations, will COVID-19 affect storm water regulations or regulatory work?  

Wynn: Not to my knowledge. State DOTs field personnel are currently still on construction and maintenance projects performing their respective duties. At this point, it is difficult to access the impact on the industry with the limited data to date.



About the author

Katie Johns is the managing editor of Storm Water Solutions. She can be reached at [email protected]