Report Construction Pollution



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Riverkeeper: Construction Watch


Report Construction Pollution!

Be a Riverkeeper Construction Watch Volunteer
Riverkeeper invites to you be a part of our Construction Watch program to monitor erosion and sediment controls at various construction sites in the East-of-Hudson (EOH) watershed. Riverkeeper works hard to stop poorly planned development and provide critical environmental review of new development in the watershed. When projects are approved, we want to ensure that construction activities are carried out in compliance with permit requirements and do not result in degradation of water quality in the EOH streams and reservoirs.
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Our goal is to develop a streamlined monitoring and reporting system to prevent and quickly correct situations that pose a threat to water quality. If you want to help, you can:
1. Select a Construction Site to Monitor: Call us, and we will help you identify a construction project that needs to be monitored near you.
2. Conduct Site Visits: To the best of your ability, visit a site on a regular basis (we recommend 2 visits per month) and ASAP after a heavy rain event.

  • When visiting a site, DO NOT TRESSPASS. Make your observations from public property (e.g. from the road, neighboring property that is open to the public, neighboring private property if you have express permission). Because you will have limited visual access, you may not be able to observe all the stormwater practices that are mentioned in these materials, so just observe what you can. Click here for more information on trespassing.




  1. Emergencies! Report Potential Water Quality Violations: If you observe a potential violation, document it and contact Riverkeeper immediately.1

  • Take photographs to document any potential water quality violations you find.

  • Provide a brief description of the situation you observe.

  • We will follow up by going to the site for further observation, or if there is sufficient photo documentation, present that evidence to the appropriate enforcement authorities. Riverkeeper has an established relationship with enforcement officials and can use legal and scientific resources to present the potential violation and conduct the necessary follow-up.




  1. Riverkeeper Updates Volunteers: Riverkeeper will keep you informed regarding any enforcement measures that are taken in response to our reports of potential violations.

  • We may ask you to make a follow-up site visit to check whether the problem has been resolved (e.g. to check that turbid water is now running clear; to make sure no activity is ongoing if we know a “stop work” order has been issued; etc.).

  • Most violations are handled in a consent order. In the rare and unlikely event that the violation must be taken to court, you may be asked to testify that you took the photo and that it is a fair and accurate representation of what you witnessed that day. If you are uncomfortable with this or unwilling to testify, please inform us. After reviewing your photos, we can either visit the site and photograph the potential violation (and thus testify ourselves) or we can inform the enforcement official that the citizen photographer is unable to testify.


Past Success!
In the past, our Construction Watch efforts have discovered significant water quality violations from residential and commercial development sites. For example, citizen volunteers reported a self-storage facility in Yorktown that was discharging sediment from onsite construction activities. In the photo below, runoff from the gravel piles in the rear of the lot entered a stream to the left of the photo and carried turbid water to a tributary of the New Croton Reservoir. In this case, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued a stop-work order upon learning of the unprotected construction activities reported by Riverkeeper.


Volunteer Materials Packet:

These web materials contain factsheets prepared by Riverkeeper that provide additional background information and will help you:

1) identify possible water quality violations;


2) understand the relationship between federal and state regulation of construction activities; and

3) understand the applicable New York State construction permit and its stormwater pollution plan (SWPPP) requirements.



Additional Resources

Should you desire more technical information about construction best management practices, you may be interested in these additional materials produced by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC):

1) two chapters (Chapters 1 and 2) discussing the impacts of, and need to reduce, runoff from new development, as well as a glossary of stormwater terms (DEC, Reducing the Impacts of Stormwater Runoff From New Development, April 1992, available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/29080.html;

2) a copy of the draft Construction Site Inspection and Maintenance Site Log Book that contractors may soon use to satisfy reporting obligations for sediment and erosion control plans (DEC, New York Standards and Specifications for Erosion and Sediment Control, Aug. 2005), available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/29066.html; and

3) a copy of the New York Contractors Erosion & Sediment Control Field Notebook to assist identification of BMPs (available for purchase at http://www.swcsnewyork.org/publications/resources/swcsorderform.pdf).




Riverkeeper / Construction Watch Contacts

Heartie Look, Volunteer Coordinator

(914)478-4501

hlook@riverkeeper.org



1 Information on how to identify a potential violation is described later in this document.


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