Sarah Haggard jokes about how she loved to play in the mud and water when she was a child growing up in Bakersfield. Little did she know at the time that her love would influence her choice of a college major and career and lead to her creation of a Bakersfield-based, woman-owned business.

Haggard is the founder and president of Deluge Consulting, a firm that develops plans, regulatory compliance strategies and monitoring systems for companies to meet local, state and federal storm water pollution prevention, and erosion and sediment control requirements.

In community college, Haggard said she took a geology class and loved it. After transferring to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and taking a couple of classes in erosion and sediment control, she set her sights on a career in soil sciences. In 2005, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in earth science and a minor in soil science. She is completing a master’s degree in petroleum geology at California State University, Bakersfield.

A certified professional in erosion and sediment control, a qualified storm water pollution prevention plan developer and a qualified storm water pollution prevention practitioner, Haggard worked for a Southern California firm before returning home to Bakersfield and establishing her own company in 2010.

“Any construction project that disturbs one or more acres of land is required to obtain a permit with the State Water Resources Control Board for storm water discharges,” said Haggard, explaining that even projects that are not required to obtain a state permit often must implement locally mandated erosion and sediment control plans.

“The purpose of the regulations is to protect the surface waters of the United States from sediment and other pollutants created by construction disturbance,” Haggard said. “Storm water pollution can adversely impact aquatic habitats, surface waters and groundwater.

“A unique challenge to Kern County is its cycle of drought. Long periods of drought reduce the amount of surface vegetation and increase soil erosion. This can result in disastrous flash floods and mudslides during our El Nino events. Appropriately designed runoff conveyances and controls can help greatly mitigate the damage caused by such events.”

Haggard said regulatory enforcement has increased over the decades at the local, state and federal levels. Of particular note was the determination by the federal Environmental Protection Agency that the county of Kern and city of Bakersfield needed to increase oversight of construction projects.

“As a result, starting in 2014, additional practices have been implemented to our local construction monitoring program, including the requirement that an approved Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan be submitted prior to the issuance of a grading permit,” said Haggard.

Acknowledging that the projects her company, Deluge Consulting, handles can be complex, Haggard told an industry publication: “I love dealing with the regulations. There are always new challenges to overcome on our projects. I’ve been in the industry since 2006, and I’m still constantly learning things.”

As she also tackles the challenges of running her own business, experienced SBDC consultants are providing Haggard with one-on-one advice in a variety of areas, including marketing and business planning.

The Small Business Development Center at CSUB is one of five service centers within the University of California, Central California SBDC Regional Network, which is a partnership between the university and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The center at CSUB assists entrepreneurs and small business owners in Kern, Inyo and Mono counties by providing free consulting, small business training and research. For more information, go to www.csub.edu/sbdc.

Kelly Bearden is the director of the Small Business Development Center at California State University, Bakersfield.

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