What are Best Management Practices (BMPs) & how do they work?

Best Management Practices (BMPs) are items used to prevent or reduce the discharge of pollutants. These items can be physical barriers that filter stormwater, barriers that prevent erosion, water treatment, waste disposal procedures or scheduling construction activities in a specific sequence. Examples of BMPs for stormwater are silt fence, rock berms, hay bales, erosion control mats, hydromulch and inlet protection. They are items and methods used to filter sediment and criteria pollutants from stormwater runoff. Site conditions and the type of development and length of construction will dictate which BMPs are used.

What are the most common types of BMPs?

Silt Fence is available in two general options - reinforced or filter fabric which is not reinforced. It is installed around the perimeter of a site to physically catch sediment while allowing water ponds against it. The goal is to keep the soil on the site. It is installed 6 inches below the surface as shown in the photo below. Silt fence needs regular maintenance to function properly. Areas that get torn or ripped will need to be replaced. The occasional washout below the silt fence may require reinstallation. Accumulated sediment may need to be removed if feasible. Silt fence is one of the less expensive BMPs.

Rock Berms filter sediment from water that passes through the berm. It is a temporary pile of rocks located at the bottom of a slope as shown in the picture below. The width and height of a rock berm depends on the quantity, frequency and velocity of the runoff being controlled. It could be a foot tall for small sites with little ground disturbance to massive wall like structures used in tidal areas. Rock berms need regular maintenance throughout construction. Debris will need to be removed and rocks may need to be replaced or moved back into position.

Hydromulch is a combination of mulch and binding agents that are sprayed onto a slope to protect the soil until native vegetation can grow. The vegetation will naturally hold sediment in place and minimize the amount of erosion.

Hydroseeding is very similar to hydromulch but also includes seed in the mixture. The mixture is sprayed onto the slope and protects from erosion until the seeds can germinate into a protective vegetative cover.

Hay Bales are generally placed across a drainage swale or ditch so that sediment is filtered as water slowly drains through the bales. This type of placement forms what is known as a check dam. Multiple rows of hay bales are used to improve their functionality. Hay bales are used as secondary or tertiary controls for smaller sites and for shorter durations since they tend to rot and degrade after a few months.

Erosion Control Logs (ECLs or wattles) are used to slow the flow of water, which allows sediment to separate and settle. They are generally long circular logs filled with straw, coconut fiber or similar materials that help filter and slow the velocity of water. They can be used along a slope in multiple rows or as a single layer near an inlet. ECLs are easy to manipulate and install.

Inlet Protection provides a physical barrier immediately adjacent to an inlet that prevent sediment and debris from entering the stormwater system. Inlet protection is generally used at curb inlets, storm drain inlets and catch basins.

Gravel Bags are bags filled with gravel, which function to slow the flow of water so that sediment can be filtered and to block debris. They are generally placed around inlets similar to other inlet protection devices but can also be used in rows as a check dam.

Erosion Control Blanket (Curlex) provides a physical barrier to prevent soil loss until vegetation establishes. Fibrous material is placed in between sheets of geotextile material to create a blanket.

Stabilized Construction Entrances (SCE) is a driveway made of riprap that minimizes sediment tracking from a job site to a roadway. 

What is STEERS?

STEERS is an online paperless electronic permitting database created by TCEQ. Using STEERs expedites the permit review process so you receive your permit in days instead of weeks. STEERs also saves money since TCEQ has a different payment structure using the online filing system. You can also learn the status of your electronic application faster compared to the paper application process. Access STEERS here.

What is a Notice of Intent (NOI)?

A Notice of Intent (NOI) is a form submitted to TCEQ notifying them that you are requesting coverage under the general permit. It is required for large construction activities that will disturb more than 5 acres of land. It is also required for projects that disturb less than 5 acres if it is part of a larger project that cumulatively disturbs 5 or more acres of land. The NOI must be submitted to MS4 operators 7 days prior to filing with TCEQ. The NOI needs to be submitted to TCEQ at least 7 days before starting construction but after the information has been supplied to MS4 operators. If there is going to be transfer of operational control, then the NOI needs to be submitted to TCEQ at least 10 days before the transfer takes place. If you need to renew your coverage under the general permit, then the NOI needs to be submitted to TCEQ at least 90 days in advance.

What is a Notice of Change (NOC)?

A Notice of Change (NOC) is required when relevant information contained within the NOI changes. Generally, a NOC is not required if you anticipate disturbing less acreage or anticipate less impacts than what was listed in the original NOI. The NOC is generally used to describe increases in land disturbance or increases in anticipated impacts than what was originally planned. The NOC needs to be filed with TCEQ at least 14 days before construction of the larger impacts resulting in the need for a NOC.

What is a Notice of Termination (NOT)?

A Notice of Termination (NOT) is sent to TCEQ requesting termination of coverage from the general permit, which is when final stabilization has been completed or when another type of permit has been obtained. It is also needed when operational control is transferred to another entity. The NOT becomes effective at midnight on the same day as when it is received by TCEQ. As such, care must be taken not to file the NOT too soon. The NOT needs to be submitted to TCEQ at least 30 days after final stabilization or 10 days after the operational transfer has occurred.

Find your water quality general permit and registration information here.

TCEQ Stormwater website at