Environmental Management Area

Many areas in the City of Berkeley are known or suspected to have groundwater contamination.  These areas are known as Environmental Management Areas (EMA).  You can obtain a copy of the EMA map at the Permit Service Center or click here for a copy.

When construction projects are proposed in the EMA, Toxics Management Division will review your project description or plans and determine if special requirements should apply.  Requirements for certain excavation or dewatering activities can be extensive and costly.  Typical conditions are presented below for your consideration before submitting for a permit.

Small Projects - Greater than 300 feet from Contaminated Site or Groundwater
Most small excavation projects, like sewer, gas, and water-line replacements and most foundation work will not encounter groundwater.  Should you find groundwater during these types of jobs and notice any unusual odor, discoloration, or oily sheen, contact this office for additional instruction.  City codes prohibit the discharge of any contaminated water into the storm drain. Silty water, concrete rinse water, or discolored water may not be discharged into the storm drain. Small volumes of uncontaminated ground water can be discharged into the storm sewer.

Large Projects where Dewatering is Anticipated
When large projects require dewatering during the construction phase or after construction, the TMD will require certain mitigations.  Since de-watering activities can draw in contamination from outside areas, monitoring of the groundwater discharges may be required after the construction.  The TMD may require dewatering and monitoring plans to ensure the discharge of clean water and the protection of the community from vapors or other health hazards.  Additionally, where there is sufficient information indicating soils contamination is present, the TMD could require testing of excavation spoils and documentation of proper disposal.

REMEMBER:   All contaminated groundwater or soils must be managed and disposed of properly.  Improper disposal of contaminated water or soils can be a violation of the Federal Clean Water and State Porter Cologne Acts as well as California Hazardous Waste Laws.

Fees
The fee for TMD's review of over-the-counter permits is $30.  TMD's fees for other construction projects are billed at the standard rate of $150.00 per hour.