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ATL
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Atlanta
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ATL
Digi

Atlanta
Digital

 

By Rudy Fusco
From the December 2023 Issue

 

When people think of stormwater pollution, they imagine a chemical plant dumping drums of hazardous chemicals into a lake, poisoning the wildlife. However, the real threat to our environment comes from the thousands of facilities that are unknowingly releasing harmful pollutants through improper stormwater management. You can help ensure your local area remains pristine by locating sources of pollutants, establishing methods to prevent those pollutants leaving your facility, and maintaining those measures. Here are a few tips facilities can utilize when developing their stormwater plan.

Stormwater Management
(Photo: Adobe Stock/ IndigoElf)

1. Be Aware Of All Sources Of Pollutants Around Your Facility

When filing for an NPDES permit, you must submit your Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP).  This plan outlines where you are producing pollutants within your facility and how you plan to prevent these pollutants from entering local waterways. Some people may not be aware of all the areas that can contribute to the overall pollutants being released at your facility. A few of these missed sources are scrap metal piles, dumpsters, grease vents on the roof, and stockpiles of used drums. All these locations have the potential to release hydrocarbons, sediment, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), and heavy metals. The challenge continues as most of these locations can be moved; thus, your source is ever changing. This potential for change means your stormwater solutions must be able to adapt, so the solution is consistency and alertness. Look beyond day-to-day operations in order to discover potential sources of pollution and be aware if they move. Products like filter socks are ideal because you can place them in front of a grease vent or around the discharge of a down spout, or they can act as a barrier around a stockpile. They can even be placed around a drain or before a culvert to act as a final filter to capture any remaining pollutants.

2. No Exposure Means No Exposure, EVER

Even if your facility falls within the no exposure exemptions, you still need to worry about stormwater management.  No exposure exemptions are facilities that do not have point source of pollution or industrial activity, so they are free from obtaining an NPDES permit. With this permit you may feel you don’t need to have stormwater measures in place, but that is far from the truth. Construction, grounds maintenance, cleaners, and many other professions are constantly coming in and out of your facility. These professions are not aware of your stormwater plan or what measures you have to protect the environment around you. They may bring in unknown and unwanted pollutants like heavy metals from scrap construction material or grease and oil runoff from power washing. It falls on you to remediate the stormwater runoff from these releases of pollution. You may be hit with a heavy fine if you don’t maintain your no exposure status. The answer to this problem is communication and planning. Make sure all construction material is put away and stored underroof and all wastewater runoff is either collected or treated before it enters the storm drain. Having a drain insert that collects the most common pollutants guarantees you are constantly ready for the unknown.

Stormwater Management
Facilities can help protect their local environments by creating a thoughtful stormwater management plan. (Photo: Adobe Stock/ adragan)

3. Develop A Treatment Train

All pollutants are not equal. Heavy metals and thin hydrocarbons can be tricky to remove from stormwater, so the solution is creating a treatment train. A treatment train is a series of stormwater filters that runoff must pass through before entering the environment. A single filter solution will struggle to remove all pollutants in a heavy rain event. It takes time for pollutants to bind to the filter media, so in a heavy rain event, some may be missed. Having multiple points of filtration helps reduce the risk of pollutants entering the drain. This also is beneficial as you don’t have to rely on a single point for filtration. Multiple filters help ensure that if one fails, others are in place to pick up the slack. These treatment trains can consist of filter socks around the point source, drain inserts, filter berm pads and remediators. Your situation and pollutant levels will determine the location and size of your treatment train.

4. Test Your Stormwater Regularly

Testing for your stormwater permit may take place every several months, but that may not be enough.  Testing should also be done to determine how effective your treatment solutions are performing to the pollutants being released. Frequent testing can help you be proactive with replacing your filtration products. This consistent testing may also alert you to new sources of pollutants that have been introduced due to increased pollutant levels. It’s best to test the outflow of your stormwater filtration solutions during your routine visual inspections or during a large rain event. These tests don’t have to be as strict as your permit requirements. Simply using test strips at the discharge of your filter solution and at the drain will give you a snapshot of your filtration efficiency.

Stormwater Management
Potential spills outside of a facility pose a high risk of reaching a storm drain or grassy area. (Photo: Adobe Stock/ AleksFil)

5. Have An Effective Spill Response Plan

Facility management can fail to consider spill response within their stormwater management plan even though spills outside of facilities are a common occurrence. Some common high-risk areas are loading docks, fuel islands, generators, and parking lots. These areas are not only prone to large spills from fuel line breaks and saddle tank ruptures but also small continuous drips from trucks and cars. Vehicles in various states of disrepair are constantly entering and leaving your facility leaking fuel, oil, and other pollutants. All these potential spills are at high risk of reaching a storm drain or grassy area.

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Having an effective spill response, for both large and small volume spills, guarantees you are prepared to contain any leak that comes your way. Drain covers can act as a first step of spill response. By covering the drain, you prevent the chemicals from entering and gain precious time to properly clean up the spill. Make sure these covers are stored near the drain; you may only have seconds to deploy in the event of a spill. Having spill kits readily accessible also allows you to control the flow of a spill and quickly clean it up. Kits should be stored outside and near the area they are intended to serve. This will give the responders extra time to respond to the spill and control any pollutants from reaching nature. The last solution is the use of microorganic remediation. Microbial remediation can be performed after a spill or as routine facility maintenance procedure. These products are designed to help break down any remaining hydrocarbon residue or stains that form after a spill by converting those substances into carbon dioxide and water. This is beneficial as this hydrocarbon residue has the potential to sit in concrete and then come to the surface during a rain event, ultimately increasing your pollutant levels.  

Rudy Fusco, New PigFusco has been helping New Pig clients find solutions to their questions and application problems for over five years. As a Technical Marketer, he observes and uncovers emerging market trends.

Do you have a comment? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below, or send an e-mail to the Editor at jen@groupc.com.

Facility Executive Magazine