CCDD Update – Get the Scoop on CCDD & Let IEPA Know What You Think

If you’re involved in construction in Illinois, you are probably well aware of new CCDD law passed last year and made effective immediately by our state legislators and governor. Many of us have been struggling to understand this new law because it was created with little guidance but severe penalties for noncompliance. Fortunately the Chicago Chapter of APWA is helping to spread the news about CCDD by hosting a traveling seminar throughout the region. So, if you live or work in the Chicago Metro region, here are two possible seminars you can attend – just click on the title to go to the registration page (I know I’ll be at the one on the 27th!). You don’t have to be an APWA member to attend:

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A CCDD Update – February 2011

Background information for those just wandering into this legislative disaster:

Last year, some of our Illinois legislators passed a law to regulate and impose a fee on anyone trying to dump dirt in a hole. At least that's the way it started out. As you will see from this update, the IEPA has worked to amend the requirements of the law.

The bill started out as an Electronic Recycling bill but was soon changed to regulate the dumping of soil from a construction site. No one working in the industry seemed to be aware of it until a day or so after Governor Quinn signed it into law. This was when contractors began calling inspectors on their jobs asking the owner's professional engineer to sign the form that was now required to dump any load of dirt.

Because of the uproar and confusion over this law, the IEPA had a few meetings to try to find out what all the fuss was about. The meetings were only open to a select few, and from talking to those who did attend, it appears no further guidance or information was obtained from the sessions. Then, winter hit, and construction shut down.

And now the update:

Anyway, what we have all been wondering is, what's the current status?

First of all, we need to understand they are really still working through the formal rules. It appears the official rules will not be decided until next year even though we can be charged with a felony if they feel we haven't complied. So the following information, from what I understand, is the best we will get until they figure out what the law they passed really means.

Next, I heard through the grapevine (meaning this is totally unverified) that the aggregate industry was behind this. They supposedly wanted to minimize their liability in receiving construction material.

It also appears IDOT moved quickly to sign an intergovernmental agreement with the IEPA establishing their obligations. IDOT was obviously affected dramatically by this law since it immediately went into effect in the middle of the construction season. With millions of dollars of construction projects at stake, IDOT could not wait around for two years for everyone else to figure out what was really going on.

For the rest of us, there are now two levels of certification. If soil is obtained from an area that is historically considered to be residential, the Source Site Certification by Owner or Operator LPC-662 form must be filled out. This does NOT need to be signed by a professional engineer.

If soil is obtained from a commercial/industrial area, but is uncontaminated, the Uncontaminated Soil Certification by Licensed Professional Engineer LPC-663 form must be filled out. This form MUST be signed by a professional engineer. And of course not all of us who have PE licenses are comfortable with signing this based on our expertise. So many are hiring engineers with a background in soil contamination to sign for their projects.

And I guess there is still no official decision on whether moving dirt on the same jobsite from one hole to another is a problem. Here is the information on the IEPA website: http://www.epa.state.il.us/land/ccdd/index.html

How does this apply at the "ground" level?

The advice I heard so far from other engineers is to create a map of your city that is broken into two areas: one colored for residential and one colored for commercial/industrial. For public works departments, crews can then use this map to figure out what form to use for the material they excavate and need to dump. One idea is to create separate piles for residential and commercial/industrial. Then when the piles need to be hauled out and dumped, the proper form can be filled out and signed if necessary. Some cities are hiring engineers to analyze the commercial/industrial pile and then sign the form if found to be uncontaminated. If there is contamination, the pile is hauled to a special waste site.

The other idea is to just haul all material from a commercial/industrial site straight to a transfer station. Then the station is responsible for disposing of the material.

For projects, many are talking about having the residential form filled out and placed in the proposal documents for residential areas. For commercial/industrial areas, an engineer has to be hired during design to analyze the area and sign the form if necessary. This form is also included in the proposal. Also, provisions must be in the proposal for disposal of contaminated soil if found. And because a load that is certified to be uncontaminated can later be turned away, there must be provisions for who is responsible for disposing of that load. Because the soil from my project might be ok, but the contractor could go pick up a contaminated load and come back and try to tell me that was my soil. Now we have to pay for its disposal at a special waste site. And how am I to know? This is one area where it just makes everything that much more confusing and difficult to manage.

Some final tips:

Make sure you separate the pavement material from the soil. I was told having pavement material mixed in the soil will make it contaminated.

Also, tell the crews on the jobsite NOT to throw paint cans into the loads. This is a very typical practice on construction sites. But your clean load will come up contaminated at the dump site if this is done.

And finally, make sure you do your own research and talk to your attorney before deciding your process because no one still seems to know what is really going on. Feel free to post your own comments or experiences dealing with this law.

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Flood Barrier Solutions

Having experienced several flooding emergencies at the last city where I worked, I have an appreciation for the amount of work that goes into protecting assets. Also, I have seen the devastation left after the waters recede. So this video was particularly interesting to me. I am sharing it here because anyone who regularly deals with flood waters might want to consider using this technology as a solution.

The manufacturer appears to be UK Flood Barriers. There is additional information on their Website.

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The Ugly Stepsister

Over the last few years the amount of information related to stormwater practices has dramatically increased. Some days it seems like every e-mail, magazine, or flyer I receive covers some topic related to the stormwater industry. However, it wasn’t until this weekend when our area had the worst rainfall event that I can remember, that I started realizing the primary focus of all this is on stormwater quality. And I am starting to wonder why there is such a comparative lack of information or concern over stormwater quantity.

Each time major rainfall events occur, people have to deal with damage to their homes from flooding/sewer backups. They probably are getting fairly tired of having to hear the engineers, myself included, talk about combined sewers that cause basement backups and about stormwater systems or levees that are only designed to handle a certain sized storm. During these events, the last thing on their minds seems to be the water quality of the receiving stream – it’s the quantity of water rushing into their home! Even in New Orleans, the situation was so bad that it seemed the regulations on water quality were waived to facilitate recovery. So at the end of the day, it makes me wonder why we are focusing so much effort on water quality and ignoring water quantity as if it is the ugly stepsister.
Example of flooding
I definitely not saying we should cast aside the focus on water quality issues, but I think it is time our industry starts talking about and including the water quantity issues. Otherwise we are only doing half the job. We need to start questioning the standards under which we design – do they need to be updated to address any climate changes? Do we need to change them because damage to homes and businesses is greater today than in the past and could be high enough to push the design year up some? Should these discussions be done on a regional or national basis? What other professions or industries should be brought in on these discussions?

Then we need to take our analysis and recommendations to the politicians who have the obligation to weigh our advice against the wishes of the people and the state of our economy. Today, I don’t believe the public, in general, is aware of the regulations and policies under which storm sewer systems are designed; they have a false sense of security that the pipes will always handle the water. Then when they do not, everyone gets upset. Engineers, along with politicians, need to do a better job educating the public about how these systems are designed, the consequences of those design policies, and the costs for preventing or alleviating flooding. Only after careful consideration of this information can the people convey the right decision to their government representatives.

Then when all parties have weighed the evidence and considered all possibilities and choices, our industry can establish a new guideline for stormwater control that not only addresses water quality, but the quantity as well.

(And by the way, my first recommendation is to figure out a new way of referring to the type of storm event instead of saying it was a “500-year flood.” A local politician from a neighboring community was quoted in our paper complaining how he couldn’t understand how they knew it was greater than a 500-year flood because the town hadn’t been around that long. That terminology is not helping public education efforts.)

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Buying Real Products in a Virtual World

Our city just bought a new sign making machine to replace the old heat press antique that we had to make signs, and over the last couple weeks, our crew has been learning and becoming more familiar with this computer-based system. Now we are ready to begin our city-wide updating of our street and traffic signs. As part of this effort, one of our first steps is to purchase the materials necessary to make the signs, so I told our crew to search on the internet for the materials and get some prices. They came to me yesterday frustrated that they had spent two hours searching and in the end could only find some of the materials and could not find any prices. They felt that they had invested a lot of time and didn't accomplish much.

I knew exactly how they felt. Many times during design I spend way too much time searching and navigating Websites to locate the right product for my project. There are usually no prices listed on the site so an e-mail or phone call must be made just to get a budgetary price. This often then results in having to meet with a salesman in my office or worse having to travel to a trade show to be able to view and compare products and brands. Few of us have this kind of time to spend on picking out a piece of equipment or product. This method also results in not finalizing a product choice until weeks later.

But because I do this type of product research all the time, I did offer to sit with my crew and try to locate these products myself. They watched as I managed to find a few of the items, but only because they were offered through a state contract that we located on our state's Website. And although that took relatively little time, we ended up spending a total of about an hour on the internet because in the end we could not find aluminum sign blanks.

Frustrated, I told them my dream of a time when I can log into Second Life, search for a sign store, teleport to that location, touch the product I want, and either get the purchase information or purchase it there on the spot. Because they have not seen Second Life, I decided to demonstrate to show them what I meant.

We logged on, and I went to search and typed in "signs." I scrolled down to one of the sign stores and teleported to that location. There were all the signs available for purchase. I explained to them that if this was a real company that had the capability to set up a purchase and shipping agreement with the city allowing my avatar to purchase materials, we could have bought that sign, and it would be on its way to us with a click of the "buy" button. They saw how any materials could have been displayed at the store in a manner that would allow us to find them so much more easily than on a Website. They also saw how a salesperson could have been there or available through IM to provide assistance.

The whole process of logging in, searching, and "purchasing" could not have taken more than 5 minutes. They agreed this method would be so much better and had several good questions including how would we know that this company would ship to us. I told them I thought we could have a state or location associated with our avatar, and when we tried to purchase something, this information would be transmitted so that if the company does not ship to my location, it would not allow me to purchase the product. Instead I would receive a message telling me they do not ship to my area. This information could also be provided in the search or through a notecard or sign at the store.

They also asked about comparison shopping so I explained how you can save landmarks to places you visit and how there are other tools to track where you have been so you could note the prices at each location and return to the one with the lowest price or best product. I also thought the amazing scripters in SL would probably come up with some type of tool to make this easier.

This crew also takes care of the city's fleet, and they told me how they are often frustrated in having to navigate through parts manuals to find the right part to order. How much easier it would be to go to the International Truck virtual "store" and go up to the virtual truck of the make and model they are working on and "touch" the part that they need to order, and then "buy" it. The company could also have a record of your ownership to make sure you are not ordering parts for vehicles you do not own.

As most of us who are involved in the "business" community of SL know, the potential of this virtual world is incredible, and it is available now if only real life companies would catch on and open shop.

Until then, our crew will be spending more time looking for sign blanks, and the rest of us will continue to waste time searching through endless pages of Websites, attending meetings with salespeople and suppliers, and driving or flying hundreds of miles to trade shows, all the time knowing there is a better way.

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Responsible Water Use in Second Life

The current issue of the SLEngineer magazine profiles the Center for Water Studies, a 3-D virtual build in Second Life that is owned and managed by Delia Lake. (Click here to read the issue: www.slengineer.org) Lake not only has built a creative and instructive site where SL users can learn more about responsible water use, but she also has her group and center take part in real life events.

 This July, the Center for Water Studies took part in the Live Earth celebrations. Draxtor Despres sent me this link to a video about the celebration. You can view it on You Tube by clicking this link:  http://youtube.com/watch?v=jNDYgU1DJDw

I think Lake’s build and her involvement in real life events is a great example of how SL users are integrating Second Life and real life in an effort to bring their messages to the public.

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