Excavation and Stormwater Management: Best Practices for Environmental Protection

When stormwater runoff is uncontrolled, it has the potential to cause property damage and can also affect lakes, rivers, and estuaries in the area. Not only does the water move to different places, but it can also carry sediment and pollutants that affect the habitats and properties.

A proactive approach to water quality management is the best solution to prevent these issues. The ideal solution is to hire a New Jersey excavation contractor to assist. 

Stormwater Runoff and Its Environmental Impact 

Not only is stormwater runoff a concern for property damage, but it can also result in problems with pollution in larger bodies of water. For example, the polluted runoff water can move into the oceans, lakes, ponds, and rivers, causing unhealthy conditions in these areas. Stormwater can carry debris and disease, including viruses and bacteria that could make people sick when swimming in polluted waters.

As stormwater moves from one place to the next, it picks up oil, fertilizer, trash, organic materials, construction chemicals, and other products. The water moves through the ditches and storm drains, spreading these contaminants along the way.

Managing stormwater runoff is essential for preventing water pollution, decreasing the risk of flooding, and protecting important bodies of water (including drinking water). 

Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs)

In our modern world, there are best management practices for stormwater that can be used to mitigate these issues and protect water resources. Both structural and non-structural methods can be implemented, depending on the vegetation, soil, and other unique characteristics of the site.


Non-structural BMPs work to prevent stormwater runoff from occurring. These systems are often more cost-effective and efficient compared to structural BMPs. Examples of non-structural BMPs include:

  • Conservation Areas: If an area is sensitive to storm runoff, then it can be protected by designating the space as a conservation area. This approach not only preserves the immediate area, but also offers protection for other downstream areas.
  • Watershed Planning: This approach is a “bigger picture” way of thinking. The process looks at the whole watershed, from the highest points to where the water moves at the lowest points. Then, agreements and partnerships can be established between property owners and stakeholders to solve all of the water problems together (instead of only addressing individual issues as they arise in the process).
  • Avoiding Soil Disturbance: The goal is to avoid the need to disturb the soil through vegetation removal or grading. When the natural topography is preserved, it also reduces the need for maintenance and landscaping in the future.
  • Laws and Regulations: Government involvement can be helpful by requiring best practices on construction sites and properties in the area. These ordinances help to reduce the sources of contamination. For example, construction sites must follow specific procedures for waste control. 


Here are examples of structural stormwater management practices that can be used. These structural BMPs are designed to filter water after it is generated and move it in the ideal direction.

  • Stormwater Wetlands: These are shallow areas designed to manage runoff during peak flow periods of time. One example is using temporary water detention basins by retrofitting them for this purpose.
  • Infiltration Basins or Trenches: This is a system that allows the water to drain down, from the surface into groundwater collection areas. Basins are larger areas to hold the water, while trenches have a linear design. They are built with soil that is highly permeable to promote drainage.
  • Retention Basins: These basins hold a certain level of water permanently, and have the capacity to hold even more when the rainwater comes through. 
  • Swales with Grass: These shallow channels are designed with gentle sloping to guide the runoff to specific treatment areas.
  • Detention Basins: This method of stormwater management involves the use of natural features or excavated depressions to control stormwater movement.
  • Rain Gardens or Vegetation Strips: These are areas with planted vegetation that improve the way water is soaked up into the soil. They act as “buffer strips” and often contain flowers, trees, shrubbery, grass, and more. The vegetation helps to filter the runoff to remove pollutants before the runoff reaches a body of water.
  • Green Roofs: If a building roof is flat or slightly sloped, it can be planted with shallow vegetation. The presence of plants on the roof helps to minimize runoff because the vegetation soaks up the water.
  • Cisterns and Rain Barrels: Cisterns and rain barrels are containers that gather water from downspouts, to prevent pollution and contaminants from moving into the environment. After this water is collected, it is reused for other purposes including landscaping, toilet flushing, irrigation, or washing.
  • Sand Filters: In this solution, a sandy area is placed on the surface or below the surface to filter out pollutants. The particles that are collected absorb and settle into the sand, which can remove as much as 80% of the solid contaminants. If sand filters are below the surface, they usually have a containment with concrete shells to keep the sand in place.
  • Pavement: If you need to place pavement in an area, make sure to choose a porous material. The paving material is permeable, which means that rainwater can drain down instead of running across the surface. As the water moves through the pavement, it also helps with filtering pollutants. 

How to Incorporate Stormwater BMPs into Your Excavation Project

Each site is unique, which is why there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for every excavation project. If you are preparing for grading, excavation, or other construction services, then it’s essential to talk to a New Jersey excavation contractor for personalized recommendations as to which stormwater best management practice is right for you.

Not only do we provide suggestions for optimizing the results from your excavation project, but we also consider stormwater runoff and environmental factors as well. Looking at the bigger picture is essential to protect your property while also preventing pollution in the surrounding areas.

Speak With an Experienced New Jersey Excavation Contractor

If you have questions or need assistance, then Mikula Contracting is always here to help. We are proud to be a trusted New Jersey excavation contractor, and our team also provides many other related services including residential drainage, commercial drainage, environmental cleanup, grading, demolition, and more. Contact us for a personalized consultation and estimate for your project.

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