Mayor Don Wesely said today that soil erosion and runoff problems at building sites must be corrected. City inspectors say erosion has become a problem at the majority of building sites in the City. The Mayor called on local builders to follow City ordinances and increase their efforts to control erosion and prevent runoff at building sites.
“We need immediate cooperation from the builders to improve their soil erosion measures to keep dirt on construction sites and stop runoff into the storm sewers,” said Mayor Wesely. “City workers have documented numerous paved streets in new developments layered with dirt. With the recent rains, that dirt has now washed into the storm sewers, contributing to poor stream quality and excessive sediment downstream and putting the City at risk of being fined by the federal government.”
The state permit issued to the City of Lincoln to discharge stormwater into streams and lakes requires the City to have a program to reduce pollutants that flow into storm sewers. In Lincoln, sediment is the largest pollutant of streams and lakes. Federal regulations and the state permit require the City to enforce an erosion control program to reduce pollutants from construction activities. The federal fine for violating the requirements can be up to $50,000 per day.
“There is another major public cost involved,” said Wesely. “Water quality problems at Holmes Lake were created by 40 years of sediment washing into the lake from development and agricultural use. It is now costing taxpayers more than $4 million to remove the sediment.”
Those applying for building permits are required to sign a statement that “erosion control measures shall be installed and properly maintained to avoid sediment runoff.” Builders are required to remove any dirt tracked onto City streets at the end of each work day. Builders not using erosion control or taking daily clean-up measures at their construction sites are subject to being billed by the City for clean-up costs and fines. The City is sending notices to builders and property owners that it intends to enforce the City’s erosion control ordinances.
Since 1999, the Public Works and Utilities Department has partnered with the Home Builders Association of Lincoln, the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District and the Nebraska Environmental Trust to educate builders about the costly problems associated with erosion at construction sites. The campaign included a brochure, video and ongoing workshops on erosion control practices. Brochures and videotapes are still available from Public Works and Utilities.