As the public continues to learn about the impact of stormwater pollution, businesses are finding themselves under increasing pressure to comply with the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations while building a positive brand image. One of the ways to do this is by employing environmentally-friendly or “green” strategies to prevent stormwater pollution.
While “green” is a nebulous term that means different things to different people, the simplest way to understand it is to think about reducing the environmental impact of something. Recycling materials using low carbon-based fuel, having low water consumption and reducing pollution are all factors that can be utilized in developing “green” business strategies.
The combination of easy implementation and the beautification of the surrounding area make incorporating environmentally-friendly stormwater pollution prevention strategies an increasingly attractive option for many businesses.
Let’s explore some options.
Bioengineering and Low Impact Development (LID) Principles
One of the biggest issues contributing to stormwater pollution is a lack of permeable surfaces in industrial and urban areas. As less water is absorbed and filtered through soil naturally, the chance of pollutants reaching streams, rivers, lakes and oceans through rapidly moving surface waters increases.
Low impact development (LID) principles focus on preventing stormwater pollution from a flow control standpoint. LID practices emulate natural water cycles and native geology in industrial and urban environments. By introducing more permeable surfaces, restricting the flow of stormwater and using natural, eco-friendly means of filtering and containment, businesses can create a positive impact that is both CWA compliant and attractive.
Popular LID methods to prevent stormwater pollution include:
- Permeable pavers: From parking lots to loading areas, the use of permeable pavers and asphalts is one of the biggest trends in green reduction of stormwater pollution. As technologies have matured, costs have dropped significantly making the option a viable upgrade for many businesses.
- Rain gardens and bio-retention: Retention pools and reservoirs have been proven to reduce stormwater pollution. However, building bigger ponds to keep up with flow and duration standards is costly and limits usable land. Researchers have found that the addition of indigenous plants and other natural features to pools and runoff paths provides a natural means for controlling erosion, removing sediment and preventing pollution to surrounding surface waters — even in smaller ponds.
- “Green” roof systems: Pollution can be managed at the source by incorporating bioengineering elements into facility structures, such a building’s roof. This method enhances the buildings themselves and reduces cooling costs in warmer months.
- Roof leader disconnection: This one design tweak involves redirecting rooftop stormwater to cisterns, reservoirs and surrounding green space to reduce the risk of contamination and slow the flow.
Thanks to Earth Day and other awareness campaigns, not to mention consumer demand, the number of businesses exploring “green” options to reduce stormwater pollution is growing fast. Incorporating these techniques into processes provides innovative ways for your business to meet EPA regulations and build the foundation for a clean future.