Ready to do some landscaping? Do you want to beautify and enhance your property? Want some fill dirt? Are you looking for someone to grade your property? Before you start, know more about the hauling in (importation) of fill dirt to your property.
More fill dirt is available, every time another basement in a new subdivision is excavated. This dirt has to be dumped somewhere. Some operators in the obscure and lightly regulated dump truck hauling industry, may take advantage of unsuspecting landowners. Farmers’ fields and vacant lots across the region, become meccas for fill dirt delivery and dumping. Before you accept any fill dirt material, learn more on how to protect yourself from criminal and financial liabilities. Be aware, when Federal, State & Local code violations occur, often times it is the property owner, not the fill dirt supplier, who would face citations.
Fill dirt is often used to grade new construction. This dirt is usually less expensive than other types of soil. When you decide to grade your lawn with fill, purchase the product from a landscaping supply business. With a successful purchase, make arrangements for a professional delivery to your home.
Construction activities, as required by Local, State, and Federal regulations have been established to minimize soil erosion and control sediment.
The purpose of erosion and sediment control is to protect the Environment and our Natural Resources. With proper implementation and maintenance, erosion control will protect, the public health, safety, and general welfare of the citizenry. The goal is to minimize soil erosion and prevent off-site sedimentation by using soil erosion and sediment control practices designed in accordance with local, state and federal regulations. Erosion and sediment controls will reduce negative impacts of land development. These controls will maintain our Natural Resources for the generations to come.
Grading Permits may be required for your grading and or construction project. Permits are typically required for:
- Commercial Development
- Single-Family Construction
- Mining Projects
- Natural Gas Wells
- Industrial Wind Turbines
- Communication Towers
- Timber Harvest Projects
- Proposed Roads
- Placement of Fill Dirt (Requires a Fill Dirt Grading Permit Exemption Application)
- New or Revised Commercial and Residential Entrances
Land Disturbance Permits
A land disturbance permit is required when 1,000 or more square feet of ground disturbance is proposed. This can include grading, clearing, paving, grubbing, or any other construction activity. Your local building department can provide you with the definition of land disturbing activity. When changes to topography and storm water drainage patterns occur, a permit can also be required. A permit can be required with less than 1000 sq. ft. of land disturbance. This permit will require the need for erosion control BMP’s (Best Management Practices). Check with your local building department for details.
Soil erosion and sediment loss from construction sites has been documented as a major source of water pollution. Soil exposed to a rain event can quickly eroded. Erosion allows sediment to move into adjacent storm sewers, lakes and streams.
Protecting Water Quality
Construction activities can compromise the public’s water supply. Without proper erosion and sediment control sediment and other pollutants can migrate into streams, rivers, and lakes. In most municipalities, it is illegal to discharge sediment-laden water and other construction-related pollutants to storm sewers or local streams and lakes.
Understanding Your Legal Liability
Stormwater permits require that erosion and sediment controls are maintained. Developers can transfer responsibility to the home builder or new lot owners. To do this, the new owner must sign a contract agreeing to the terms of the existing stormwater permit. Signing a contract requires that the new owner implement all necessary erosion and sediment control measures. Check with your local building department for details.
Common Pollutants at Construction Sites
- Concrete & Grout
- Soap & detergents
- Wood Preservatives
- Paint, Lacquers & Primers
- Fuels, Lubricants, Coolants & Fluids
- Cleaning Solvents
2500 + Sq. Ft. can obligate you to secure a Land Disturbance Permit
5000 + Sq. Ft. of project area, you should be prepared to provide Grading Plans for approval, prior to construction.
Violations & Penalties
Government can take action, enforce any provision with civil and criminal penalties:
- Temporary and/or permanent injunction.
- Assessment of the violator for the costs of any investigation.
- Inspection or monitoring survey which led to the establishment of a violation.
- Reasonable costs of preparing and bringing legal action under this provision.
- Costs incurred in removing, correcting or terminating the adverse effects resulting from a violation.
- Compensatory damages for loss or destruction to water quality, wildlife, fish and aquatic life.
- Assessments and recovered damages with the violation.
- Any person or its agent violating any provision may have civil penalties assessed against them.
- The notice of said penalties shall be served upon the violator.
- Service may be effectuated by certified mail to the last known business address or residential address of the violator.
- A new violation may be filed for each day the violation continues.
- The violation will have a date when the violation shall be paid.
- Municipalities can pursue collections through the court.
- All associated collection costs are to be paid by the violator.
- Civil penalties may be issued to the offending party.
There are certain procedures available that may allow the violator to eliminate or minimize fines and penalties. Construction activities without a permit can result in financial penalties up to $10,000 per day. This can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in unexpected and unintended project expenses.
Before you begin any digging or excavation project on your property, it is important to ensure that you have any and all underground utilities properly marked. Otherwise, the excavation may critically damage vital utilities, leading to expensive repair costs. In addition, running into underground utilities can be dangerous for excavators as well as homeowners.
This includes, but is not limited to:
- General Digging
- Home Improvements
- Major Construction
Stormwater runoff can become a huge concern if it is not properly managed. An excess in stormwater runoff has been known to compromise the quality of water in lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water. Stormwater runoff contributes to pollution, leads to soil erosion and increases the risk of flash flooding. These effects harm ecosystems and put wildlife in jeopardy.
Stormwater runoff can cause a number of environmental problems:
- Erode stream banks
- Damage aquatic habitat.
- Sediment migration.
- Introduce fertilizers, pet waste, into the water supply.
- Push petroleum chemical contaminants into rivers and streams.
- Increase algae growth.
- Harm human health and wildlife.
- Reduce sunlight to the bodies of water
Escalating Enforcement Actions
Local, State and Federal Permits and Codes require escalating enforcement when illegal discharges occur. This means that if a resident, business owner, or property owner who illegally discharges into the storm drain system is liable. Enforcement actions against them will increase in severity with each incident. The severity of the enforcement action is based on a variety of factors. These factors can include but not limited to, the type of substance discharged, the volume of discharge, and its proximity to waterways. Enforcement actions can include a Warning Letter, Notice of Violation, Administrative Citation, Civil Penalty, or Criminal Prosecution. Often times, Administrative Citations range from $100 to $1,000, and Civil Penalties can reach up to $10,000 per day per violation.
Reporting a Potential Violation
To protect our Natural Resources, Government is asking for your help. These discharges pose a threat to the health of local waterways. Only rain is allowed down the drain.
Grading & Drainage
The most commonly constructed grading and drainage design in residential areas is a drainage swale. Your lot boundaries should collect the rainwater and roof run-off and direct it towards an approved collection point. The most common approved collection points are road ditches, streets, rain gardens and retention ponds. The main purpose of grading is to properly drain the site, to steer water away from structures, and to prevent flooding.
Do Not Change The Lay Of The Land
Proctor Compaction Test
Soils are the most basic and least expensive construction materials available. Over the years, experience and experimentation have proved that compacted soils provide for a more permanent, along with some other advantages. The development of the Proctor Compaction Test, allows for scientific testing of construction project soils. The testing provides scientific data, that documents the performance of the tested material. With proven test results, the developer can construct his/her project with performance certainty.
Take Nothing For Granted
Do not assume all imported fill dirt is void of contaminants. Confirm with your supplier the fill dirt is free of contaminants.
Monitor All Work
Set up a camera to record all activities occurring on your property.
- Names on trucks.
- Quantity of dump truck loads delivered.
- Confirm physical address of fill dirt supplier.
- Get phones numbers.
- Secure a Certificate of Insurance.
- Keep a Daily Construction Log Book.
Soil Around Trees
Adding or removing even a small amount of soil around a tree, can kill the tree. By changing of the grade around the tree, you can injure or weaken the tree and in extreme cases, kill it.
The addition of a few inches of organic matter-rich, can severely impact the health of your tree. Small amounts of material added to your healthy tree can have a minimum impact.
Soil added around a tree reduces the amount of oxygen available to the roots. This in turn slows the rate of gas exchange in and around the roots. Increased soil, can reduce moisture and nutrients to the roots. Inadequate oxygen, nutrients, microorganisms can lead to an accumulation of chemicals that can injure tree roots. Additional soil can damage the bark and decay may set in. The tree damage caused by added soil may not become apparent for several months or years.
Real Life Event
The importation of fill dirt (50+ dump trucks) without proper permits was a nightmare. With the large quantities of fill dirt, government officials were notified (the neighbors). These officials descended onto to my property, similar to elite military forces. There was to be no mercy. The official investigations led to citations. In addition, the land disturbance officials had some additional demands. One of the demands was to remove a portion of the imported materials. Additionally, I was to install silt fence, improve the land disturbance area, install a certain type of grass seed and placement of straw mat with wood stakes. These cost were to be paid my me, the homeowner. These costs for code compliance were exorbitant. Great savings were realized with the help of a great contractor and leniency by the enforcement officials. When you see free dirt on Craigslist or Facebook Market Place, be careful.
Dirt Connections was started with one goal in mind: providing quality residential and commercial construction services to clients on time and on budget. Reach out for more information on how we can support your next project.
For your convenience our estimates are free and by appointment. Call 703-940-9949 for a free estimate today!