Unfortunately, when it comes to spreading pollutants, nothing does it more efficiently than our very own water systems. Some materials might seem harmless when applied to a small area (e.g., pesticides sprayed on lawns or motor oil spilled on pavement), but when the rain comes, any runoff water carries with it whatever pollutants it encounters.
In industrial areas, this risk is even higher: Manmade surfaces, such as pavement or buildings, don’t absorb water like soil does, which results in increased runoff volume. This means that what we throw on the ground in urban areas is likely to end up in bodies of water.
With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that there are regulations in place to try to limit industrial storm water pollution. To ensure that you stay compliant with regulation and avoid water pollution, it’s imperative that you implement certain best management practices in your storm water pollution prevention plan (SWPPP).
A comprehensive SWPPP requires a wide variety of best management practices, but here are three from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that are of primary importance when it comes to prevention:
- Educate and train employees. It’s not useful to have a prevention program in place if your employees don’t know how to implement and maintain it.
Any employees who work with materials that may be exposed to storm water — as well as those who will be responsible for tasks required by your SWPPP — need to receive regular training. The EPA recommends this training occur at least annually.
Make sure to track which employees have received training at what time so you can ensure your staff is always fully equipped to handle any storm water concerns they may face in their day-to-day work.
- Establish controls for properly disposing of waste and pollutants. To prevent everyday materials from ending up in storm water runoff, you need non-structural controls in place.
Non-structural controls focus on facility operations such as posted signage or defined procedures. Remember that controls also need to be regularly evaluated and updated to remain effective and relevant to your facility’s current state.
- Understand your pollutants. Each facility has different pollutants to deal with, so it’s imperative that you put your SWPPP together with a complete foundational knowledge of the specific pollutants that it must be prepared to address.
From vehicle-related pollutants to chemicals and trash, make sure to analyze every part of your facility where pollutants may be exposed to storm water. Address each concern in your plan.
You never know when the weather will change or how long a storm could last, so you must make sure you’re prepared to deal with storm water runoff when it happens.