Certified contractors: Your pollution prevention insurance

15 years ago

    Having some earth moving done around your home or business? Then you should get a certified contractor. A what, you say? A contractor certified in erosion and sediment control practices. Hiring a certified contractor will help protect nearby rivers, streams and ponds and will help you comply with Maine’s environmental laws. 

    Why do you need a certified contractor? Just imagine your car breaking down in a strange place. As you check the yellow pages under automotive repair, you see an ad for a local repair shop with the ASE certification insignia. You think, “These guys are certified just like my mechanic back home; I’ll give them a try.” ASE stands for “automotive service excellence”. To be certified, a mechanic must pass exams pertaining to the service of various motor vehicle components. Using an ASE certified mechanic provides you with some confidence that work on your vehicle will be done properly.
    This same level of confidence can be obtained when you undertake a project at your home or business that requires earth moving or excavation. These activities expose soil to the action of wind and rain, a process called erosion. Eroded soil is recognized as the biggest pollutant on earth and has harmed many of Maine’s waters. The issue prompted the Maine Legislature to pass the State’s Erosion and Sediment Control Law in 1996.
    Under that law, as landowners, we are responsible to insure that adequate erosion control practices are used if earthmoving work occurs on our property. Hiring contractors who are certified in erosion and sediment control practices by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) provides some assurance that erosion control methods used by the contractors will comply with the state’s law.
    Depending on the site, erosion control can sometimes be tricky. Certified contractors have been trained to use a number of effective techniques to prevent eroded soil from leaving a project. They have also been trained on the requirements of various environmental laws.
    In addition, as a benefit to certification, they have the ability to obtain certain environmental permits more quickly than non-certified contractors. What this means for you as a property owner is that Certified Contractors can help protect the state’s waters and assist you to efficiently meet the requirements of environmental laws affecting your project.
    Where can you find these contractors? There are a hundreds of them throughout the state from Kittery to Madawaska. You can obtain a list at: http://www.maine.gov/dep/blwq/training/ccec.htm or by contacting the DEP’s Nonpoint Source Training and Resource Center at 207-287-7726.
    Just like ASE certified mechanics, certified contractors, armed with their knowledge of erosion control techniques can help insure that your job is done right!
    This column was submitted by William Laflamme, an environmental specialist with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Bureau of Land and Water Quality. In Our Back Yard is a weekly column of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. E-mail your environmental questions to infodep@maine.gov or send them to In Our Back Yard, Maine DEP, 17 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333.