Editor’s note: Welcome to our series on Stormwater Management! We hope you find these PIG-exclusive articles to be helpful in explaining the basics of stormwater regulations and what you can do to help protect your storm drains.
Companies that discharge pollutants, such as oil, sediment and debris, directly into waterways are required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to have a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP).
Below are nine examples of stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) to consider incorporating into your SWPPP to help you comply with stormwater regulations.
1. Keep Sediment Out of Outdoor Storm Drains
Sweep paved surfaces regularly to minimize the amount of dirt and debris that enters storm drains. You can also place filter socks and oily water filter mats in front of drains to remove suspended solids, debris and trace oils from your stormwater. Drain filter inserts are another effective method for capturing residual debris and trace oils inside your catch basin.
2. Pressure Wash Surfaces Responsibly
Pressure washing drives contaminants like dirt, debris and oil into stormwater drains. Seal grates with drain covers before power washing and use a drum pump or vacuum to collect the wastewater.
3. Contain Leaks and Spills in Storage Areas
Secondary containment in transfer and storage areas keeps spills in check if primary containers leak or fail. Place spill pallets or decks underneath containers in covered areas so liquids are captured in the sump and drains are protected.
4. Cover Outdoor Storage and Waste Collection Areas
Rainwater and snowmelt wash oil and other pollutants from drums, tanks and other items stored outdoors. These pollutants can eventually make their way to your drains, so it’s best practice to keep them covered. Roll Tops and covered spill containment pallets prevent rain and snow from directly hitting stored items while still providing easy access to their contents.
5. Keep Spill Kits and PPE in High-Risk Areas
Many surfaces slope toward drains, so it’s important to prevent hazardous spills from following that path. Stock spill kits and personal protective equipment (PPE) in areas where liquids are stored, handled and transferred to absorb spills before they can enter storm drains.
6. Contain Run-Off from Vehicle Washdowns
Pollutants from vehicle surfaces can go straight down the drain during washdowns unless precautions are taken. To protect storm drains, pull vehicles into a confined area, such as portable and collapsible spill containment, before washing to capture pollutants and stop them from entering the environment.
7. Discourage Accumulation of Waste
Stacked drums of waste, used rags and clutter can hide leaks and spills. These liquids can escape to drains if not promptly and properly absorbed. Be sure to keep adequate waste collection containers in accessible locations and put up signage to remind employees to clear waste and keep work areas clean.
8. Landscape Smarter
Consider planting more trees, wildflowers and rain gardens around your facility since they absorb more water than grass and discourage erosion. The soil and gravel used in plant beds slows down runoff and absorbs water, unlike impermeable surfaces, such as brick or pavement.
9. Use Bioremediation for Spill Response
Outdoor spills can be hard to clean up, especially if they occur on dirt, sand or other porous surfaces. While not traditional, an effective way to clean up these spills is through bioremediation, which uses naturally occurring microbes to digest pollutants like oil, solvents, pesticides and other petroleum products.
Reinforcing SWPPP BMPs
When it comes to CWA compliance, even small efforts can lead to big results. The following tips can help bolster your BMPs to avoid violations and make your SWPPP as strong as possible.
1. Regularly Training Employees
Ensure employees retain SWPPP requirements and BMPs through regular training. Reinforce BMPs when conducting other training programs, such as Hazard Communication Standard and Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures. Repeat key points, like good housekeeping practices and proper spill containment techniques, often. Repeating formal classroom training annually to increase retention and eliminate costly mistakes is also recommended.
2. Inject BMPs into Company Culture
Reinforcing BMPs shouldn’t stop when training classes end. Include reminders and overviews of critical BMPs in company newsletters, weekly reports and on signage throughout the facility. BMPs become a part of daily routines and standard operating procedures when incorporated into the culture of the workplace. Involving everyone in stormwater pollution prevention also maximizes the potential for innovation and new ideas.
3. Set up a Pollution Prevention Team
Create a dedicated pollution prevention team to ensure that BMPs are utilized to their full potential. Teams can also help spread SWPPP awareness and provide ways to improve and implement training programs for increased effectiveness.
4. Frequently Update BMPs
SWPPPs and BMPs are best treated as living documents. As your facility expands, technologies change or new risks are discovered, it is important to take a look at your BMPs and make sure that you’re using the most effective practices. Even when your BMPs appear to be working well, you might find that regulations have changed and you need to adapt.
5. Leverage Knowledge of Suppliers
While the most effective BMPs are often the most simple, it is easy to overlook important aspects of preventing stormwater pollution. Experienced suppliers know federal and state requirements and have the products and services to meet them. Leverage their expertise to help your facility develop realistic BMPs and better comply with regulations.
Keep the above strategies in mind when implementing SWPPP BMPs to help your facility comply with the Clean Water Act.
Keep reading our Stormwater Management Series for more expert advice and storm drain solutions from New Pig.