Getting Standards and Practices on the Same Page
Several years back, I voiced my opinion to IECA’s leadership about the lack of standardization in our industry. It’s frustrating as a professional to have multiple names and designs for the same practices, the only difference in these practices being the location of the regulating agency.
I also have been frustrated by the fact that we—meaning IECA and its members—are the erosion and sediment control industry’s professional organization. We should be setting the standard for the industry. We should be the experts—the “go to” organization. Don’t get me wrong—I truly believe we are that organization. But we need to continue to fill in the gaps, and one of these gaps is providing the industry with holistic and accessible information on best management practices and designs.
Defining IECA’s Role
|Beth Chesson, CPESC, CPSWQ, serves on the IECA Board of Directors and is a member of
the Executive Committee and Government Relations Committee.
In an effort to determine the best course of action for IECA’s involvement with erosion and sediment control standards and practices, the board of directors agreed during its February 2011 meeting that a Standards and Practices Task Force would be developed. We recognized that some effort already had been put towards this task, and that other organizations were working toward a level of standardization as well, including the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the Erosion Control Technology Council (ECTC).
The IECA Board requested that a “white paper” be developed by the task force to address appropriate options for IECA’s involvement with standards and practices. In March, April, and May, individuals from a broad cross-section of IECA’s membership convened as part of this task force. Product manufacturers, regulators, designers, and researchers were included, and members were the following: Beth Chesson, Civil & Environmental Consultants Inc. (chairperson); Tom Schnieder, Stormcon LLC; Chris Marr, ESI Resource Services; Julie Etra, Western Botanical Services; Mark Theisen, Profile Products LLC; Jett McFalls, Texas Transportation Institute; Sandy Mathews, Larry Walker Associates; Rich McLaughlin, North Carolina State University Soil Science Department; Rebecca Kauten, Iowa DNR Urban Watershed & Monitoring Project; Sandy Salisbury, Washington State Department of Transportation; Greg Balzer, CalTrans; and Roger Singleton, Silt-Saver.
The findings of the Standards and Practices Task Force are summarized below:
- IECA should be involved with erosion and sediment control standards and practices.
- IECA should coordinate with other organizations so that efforts are not overlapping or conflicting. Specifically, coordination should occur with ASTM and ECTC.
- A standing committee should be developed. This committee—the Standards and Practices Committee—should work toward developing a repository for the state-of-the-industry erosion and sediment control standards. These standards should be organized in a searchable database housed on IECA’s website.
- The goal of the committee should be to identify data gaps in standards and practices and coordinate with researchers and testing facilities to begin bridging the gap between what is available and what is needed.
These findings were presented to the board of directors at its June meeting, and the board unanimously agreed that the Standards and Practices Committee should be created as a long-standing committee. Since that time, the task force has worked to establish baseline parameters for the committee, which are described below:
- Committee composition—Anyone can serve on the committee, but only IECA members can vote. Many government organizations have discontinued paying membership fees, yet input from government agencies is extremely important for this committee to be successful, since they establish state and/or local standards. In addition, the committee should have active members on the ASTM committees related to erosion and sediment control.
- Interaction guidelines—Our industry is very passionate about erosion and sediment control, and establishing or choosing standards and practices can often polarize a committee. Honestly, this has been the most significant concern to arise during the development of this committee. However, the results of this committee could establish a standard for the industry where a standard hasn’t already been established. It’s a necessary yet difficult task. The task force felt that the ASTM process for establishing standards and reviewing, revising, and approving them by committee members is the best model to follow. IECA members on the committee will vote on issues to resolve them with the aim of developing standards that are acceptable to all committee members through consensus.
- First steps—In an effort to give the new committee some direction, the task force has identified potential first steps. These steps include developing definitions for terms that have not been defined by other organizations and developing a searchable library of existing standards for use by IECA members.
I want to extend a huge thank-you to all task force members. Thank you, for your time and effort. Slowly and methodically, we are getting there.
The Standards and Practices Committee officially was established at EC12, IECA’s 2012 annual conference this past February, as part of the board of directors meeting. If you are interested in joining this committee, please e-mail Beth Chesson at Beth.Chesson@cecinc.com. And roll up your sleeves. We have work to do!