Last week a reader pointed out that California Assembly Bill 1210, introduced in February, has the potential to profoundly change the way those who hold professional certifications in the erosion and sediment control and stormwater arenas are able to function on the job site.
Here is an excerpt from the bill, as amended in assembly in March, which proposes additions to the Business and Professions Code:
SECTION 1. Section 6730.4 is added to the Business and Professions Code, to read:
6730.4. Notwithstanding any other law, all civil engineering activities performed in the preparation, submission, execution, and enforcement of stormwater pollution prevention plans pursuant to the General Permit for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Construction and Land Disturbance Activities (Order No. 2009-0009-DWQ of the State Water Resources Control Board), and all amendments to that order, shall be prepared and performed under the responsible charge of a licensed civil engineer.
It’s not really clear from the text itself whether “civil engineering activities” encompasses all the work that those with professional certifications such as the CPESC (Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control) often perform today, or whether the intent is to refer more narrowly to other engineering activities. (You can see the full text at www.leginfo.ca.gov/index.html.)
The several professional certifications that deal with stormwater and erosion and sediment control activities have a long history with the engineering profession. It was a struggle in many states for CPESCs to be able to sign off on erosion and sediment control plans and SWPPPs. As the CPESC designation has become more widely recognized—along with other, more recent certifications, including the CPSWQ (Certified Professional in Storm Water Quality, which, like CPESC, is offered through EnviroCert International Inc.) and the CISEC (Certified Inspector of Sediment and Erosion Control, offered through CISEC Inc.)—state agencies, urban planners, city engineers, and others have given them more credence.
Many states have recognized the particular ability of CPESCs to design sediment control plans and approve SWPPPs; this Erosion Control article from 2006 details the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s recognition of the certification, and this one shows how the CPESC and CPSWQ (Certified Professional in Storm Water Quality) are being incorporated into North Carolina’s staff development initiative. The certification is catching on around the world as well, as this recent article about CPESCs in Malaysia shows.
Some people who hold these types of certifications have even questioned whether all engineers, without the benefit of additional training or experience in erosion and sediment control, are as qualified as the non-engineer CPESC in this particular area. This 2005 article in Erosion Control argues that those with specific ESC training are often more qualified to approve ESC plans, and it generated some interesting discussion online (scroll down to the comments section of the article).
Which brings us back to AB 1210. If you have more information about the intent behind the bill, please share it in the comments below. If the bill passes in California, do you think it will have eventual implications for other states as well?