What Is Stormwater and Why Should We Care?

During a rain event, precipitation is either taken up by plants, infiltrates into the soil, evaporates to the atmosphere or encounters saturated land or impervious surfaces and creates runoff. Stormwater can come into contact with pollutants, such as oil and grease, chemicals, nutrients and metal occurring from human activities. These pollutants are then carried off by stormwater runoff and concentrated, potentially having adverse affects on the receiving water.

Industrial and commercial facilities often conduct activities or store materials outdoors that have the potential to come into contact with stormwater that can result in a discharge of pollutants. In order to protect water quality, under certain circumstances, the facility may be required to obtain a permit for the discharge.

Industrial materials or activities that can come into contact with stormwater can result in discharges and have the potential to pollute the waters. These include, but are not limited to, material handling equipment or activities, industrial machinery, raw materials, intermediate products, by-products, final products or waste products. Material handling activities include storage, loading and unloading, transportation or conveyance of any raw material, intermediate product, final product, by-product or waste product.

Some common sources of industrial stormwater pollution include:
– Uncovered outside fuel dispensing or vehicle maintenance.
– Open, deteriorated or leaking containers.
– Uncovered outside storage of materials, including machinery.
– Stockpiles of materials, including dirt, sand and aggregates.
– Uncovered loading docks or platforms.

The use of stormwater best management practices and structures may be implemented to minimize the exposure of pollutants to the environment reducing the potential for complaints and noncompliance. Do you know what a compliant versus non-compliant stormwater situation looks like?