Oil, debris and other contaminants can do a lot of damage to parking lot and outdoor storage area storm drains. Fortunately, facilities managers and municipalities have options that can protect their locations against much of this damage that will save the company time and money. Even better, these options don’t involve tearing up a facility to install drainage systems and retention ponds.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires companies to implement pollution control plans to fight stormwater contamination at their facilities since it is illegal under the Clean Water Act to discharge pollutants into navigable waters.
Passive devices combined with regular maintenance programs will reduce the amount of contaminants that enter waterways from storm drains. While passive devices are not designed to stop or block drains in the event of a major spill and do not guarantee drinkable water, they can significantly reduce the amount of contaminants that enter waterways. Here are six fast, affordable ways to fight stormwater pollution:
1. Drain Inserts
Oil and debris such as dirt, twigs, leaves, bottle caps and broken glass can accumulate in water systems and cause problems for fish and other aquatic life. Debris can also cause drainage pipes to back up.
Drain inserts filter oil and capture debris just below the surface of the storm grate. Installing a drain insert minimizes the time workers spend digging debris out of the catch basin and reduces the likelihood they will directly handle sharp or hazardous objects.
2. Absorbent Booms
Facilities and municipalities can channel stormwater to retention ponds or other areas where it can evaporate or be treated and released. Oil that gets through stormwater drains and ends up in accumulation areas can negate treatment efforts.
Absorbent booms attract oil and oil-based liquids while repelling water. Booms float on water and come in white to show grime or black to hide it. A built-in rope the entire length of the boom adds strength and makes retrieval easier.
3. Trays and Decks
Capturing oil at the source of the leak will preserve concrete or asphalt surfaces and prolong the life of drain inserts.
Trays and decks contain absorbent materials that capture oil while allowing water to pass through.
4. Collapsible Spill Berms
Facilities where liquid-holding containers are regularly moved have a greater chance for a spill.
Collapsible containment berms contain spills that happen while containers are being moved. These berms are portable and have collapsible walls that forklifts and other vehicles can drive over.
5. Self Bailer Kits
Outdoor spill pallets and other containment units that come into contact with rainwater must be drained to prevent overflow and pollutant discharge.
Self bailer kits attach to containment units and filter oil until they detect a large hydrocarbon leak or the filter is saturated. When the filter becomes saturated, however, no liquid will be able to pass through.
6. Drain Markers
Municipalities have the issue of citizens dumping oil or sweeping debris into storm drains, which can harm aquatic life if the drain goes to a waterway and floods residential areas.
Drain markers labeled “no dumping” remind the public to think twice before disposing of waste there.
Prevention Goes a Long Way
Facility managers can avoid EPA and Clean Water Act violations by using passive devices to prevent oil and debris from getting in storm drains and, in turn, promoting clean and safe waterways.