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Best Practices for Effective Industrial Stormwater Pollution Management

In addressing the crucial issue of Industrial stormwater pollution prevention, it is imperative to shift our focus from the stereotypical image of a chemical plant releasing hazardous chemicals into a lake. The real threat lies in the inadvertent discharge of harmful pollutants from numerous facilities with improper stormwater management practices. Protecting the local environment requires a proactive approach, involving the identification of pollution sources, implementation of preventative measures, and their consistent maintenance. Here are essential tips for facilities to consider when formulating their stormwater management plans.

1. Heightened Awareness of Pollutant Sources

When applying for an NPDES permit, facilities must submit a comprehensive Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) outlining the production and prevention of pollutants within the premises. Often, overlooked sources such as scrap metal piles, dumpsters, grease vents on rooftops, and stockpiles of used drums contribute to the release of hydrocarbons, sediment, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), and heavy metals. The dynamic nature of these sources necessitates adaptable stormwater solutions. Filter socks, strategically placed, act as effective barriers, ensuring pollutants are captured before entering waterways.

2. Vigilance Despite "No Exposure" Exemptions

Even for facilities qualifying for "no exposure" exemptions, stormwater management remains crucial. Construction, grounds maintenance, and other activities can introduce pollutants unknowingly. Maintaining communication and implementing proper planning to store construction materials and manage wastewater runoff are essential to avoid fines and uphold "no exposure" status.

3. Implementation of a Treatment Train

Not all pollutants are easily removed from stormwater. Creating a treatment train, a series of filters through which runoff must pass, ensures more comprehensive filtration. Multiple filtration points, including filter socks, drain inserts, filter berm pads, and remediators, reduce the risk of pollutants entering drains. This approach provides redundancy, ensuring continued filtration in case of a failure at any single point.

4. Regular Stormwater Testing

Periodic testing for stormwater permits may not be sufficient to ensure effective pollutant removal. Frequent testing allows facilities to proactively replace filtration products and identify new sources of pollutants. Simple tests using strips at the discharge points provide insights into filtration efficiency, offering a snapshot of the overall performance.

5. Robust Spill Response Plan

Often overlooked, spill response should be an integral part of the stormwater management plan. High-risk areas, including loading docks, fuel islands, generators, and parking lots, require effective spill response measures. Drain covers, stored near drains, act as an initial response, preventing chemicals from entering drains. Spill kits, strategically located, provide responders with the tools needed to control and clean up spills promptly. Microorganic remediation serves as a proactive measure, breaking down hydrocarbon residues to prevent increased pollutant levels during rain events.

By incorporating these best practices, facilities can contribute significantly to mitigating stormwater pollution and safeguarding the environment.

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