Map Updating Considerations You May Not Have Thought of
We’ve talked about the items that need to be updated on the SWPPP map and the importance of keeping the map up to date. A good SWPPP map is only good if it is usable, so let’s go through a few additional considerations to help your SWPPP mapping efforts.
The first additional consideration, and the one that is most likely to doom map making efforts, is keeping the map legible. If you spend hours updating your map, but then you can’t read it, what’s the point?
On a physical map, all the effort you put in to make the perfect SWPPP map will also conspire to make it illegible. Text quickly becomes illegible as you try to add more and more notes. Shaded areas start to overlap, leading to ever more complex cross hatching. Meanwhile, the legend grows ever longer a s you try to represent your mad genius in an ever shrinking space. And then, you have to consider the situation on your site and ask yourself, even if I can make it legible, can I keep it legible? Many times, as soon as the map is removed from its location, it gets wet, ripped, or otherwise damaged, which means you get to do all your hard work over again.
We here at ComplianceGO love our electronic management, but electronic mapping tools have their own unique challenges in keeping it legible. Are the icons, lines, or other symbols large enough to see? What about the text, can you read the notes you leave? Does it even allow you to leave notes? Does it only allow you to put on icons, then force you to type notes in the margins or on an entirely separate document? Does it have enough symbols and lines to represent your site, or does it have a limited palette?
Once you’ve answered these questions and figured out a way to make your map legible, then you need to ask yourself, how am I going to access it? A map that’s never accessible to the inspector is useless. So for physical maps, where are you going to keep it, and is that a safe place? Your truck might be a convenient place, but chances are it’s not very safe. The office is probably the safest place, but what if you forget about it? Then you’re driving all the way back to pick it up.
Again, electronic management comes with its advantages, but also its challenges and pitfalls. If you’re storing it locally on a device, which device are you storing it on? Is it one you’ll have with you? If you store it in the cloud, which we highly recommend, can you access it on whatever device you’re using, or is it only going to work at your computer back in the office that has the specific program you need? When deciding on an electronic storage option, it’s important to consider the limitations of whatever program you’re using and weigh them against the conditions you will be presented with.
The last challenge is, in many ways, the most frightening: how are you going to provide the map to a regulator who asked for it? As we’ve talked about before, the SWPPP map is an important compliance tool, and required in most cases. If you have a physical map, do they have to review it with you present? Are you going to have any of the problems we talked about before about accessing the map? If they request a copy, can you accommodate that request? Many trailers have large printers for maps and the like, but if you’re working out of your truck on a smaller site, you probably don’t have the tools you need to pass the map along.
If you’re storing the map electronically, your challenges are no less severe. If you marked up the map in a piece of software, can you grant them access directly, or does it need to be downloaded and sent to them? Email services often have limitations as low as 10MB, so you need to ask if your map is even small enough to email. If you have more than one map, for example, on a large site that you split up into phases, you can quickly surpass the email limit. Or, if you’re storing your files in the cloud, do you have the ability to grant the regulator access to them directly or do you have to download and send it to them?
Like any project or effort, the logistics of the SWPPP map can be the difference between success and failure. However, by carefully considering the challenges before you, maintaining a current SWPPP map is achievable and is a great way to empower your compliance efforts.
By: Charley Beesley