Sunday, March 02, 2008

Three Years, 51, 000 Certifications and A Better Georgia

As the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission (GSWCC) begins its third year of the Education and Certification Program, more than 51,000 certifications have been issued to individuals involved in land disturbing activities. The Education and Certification Program was established in 2003 by House Bill 285. The goal of the program is to educate individuals involved in land disturbing activities about the importance of erosion and sediment control thus improving and protecting Georgia’s water resources .

According to GSWCC approved trainer Luke Owen “With almost every Seminar, I've had people approach me and say how much they appreciate the information taught because they didn't understand the impact our increasing population was having on Georgia's limited water resources. They are glad to have gained knowledge about how to keep the sediment on their sites because they are more capable of making sure BMPs are installed and maintained correctly.”

The Education and Certification Program is a tiered system of training courses targeted at specific audiences. The Level IA Fundamentals Seminar is designed for developers, builders, site superintendents and monitoring consultants, as well as primary, secondary and tertiary permittees. The Level IB Advanced Fundamentals Seminar targets regulatory inspectors and individuals contracted to perform regulatory inspections. The Level II Introduction to Design Seminar is for Plan Reviewers and Design Professionals. The Subcontractor Awareness Seminar is for individuals working in a subcontractor capacity. Such individuals include but are not limited to grading contractors, landscape personnel, wastewater personnel, and best management practice installation personnel.

According to Jeff Smith of the Bibb County Engineering Department “I appreciate the GSWCC’ s Education and Certification Program because it has granted not only personal credibility to me in my day to day execution of the duties required by my employer but it has granted a degree of credibility to the entire Bibb County Engineering Department. By having several of our employees obtain this certification, it demonstrates our dedication not just to being compliant with state law but to being a partner in this process with the GSWCC.”

Why is the GSWCC Education and Certification Program so important? Frank Henning, UGA Area Watershed Extension Agent says it best “it is hard to point to a healthy stream and credit erosion and sediment training, but that is what this effort is all about. The stakes are high - over 200 tons of soil can be lost per acre each year from areas where the land is being disturbed, and Georgia is the 5th fastest growing state in the nation. We are doing our best to make sure that the people who move soil are properly trained in order to limit erosion and reduce the amount of sediment entering area streams.”

According to Brent Dykes, GSWCC Executive Director “The Education and Certification Program’s success is due to the efforts of many people, especially the Stakeholder Advisory Board. The Stakeholder Advisory Board has been invaluable in their commitment of time and resources to ensure that the Education and Certification Program succeeded in reaching an almost overwhelming number of individuals in the development and compliance industry who are a part of the required certification initiative.”

For more information on the Education and Certification Program please call 706-542-1840 or visit www.gaswcc.georgia.gov.
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