Stormwater Pollution Control Measures

  • Published
  • By Stephanie Manry
  • 82nd Civil Engineering Squadron
Stormwater runoff is the water produced by rain, snow and other forms of precipitation. It is absorbed by lawns and other unpaved surfaces.

Construction activities often transform permeable surfaces into impervious ones, such as roads, parking lots and buildings.
Rather than being absorbed as part of the natural water cycle, the stormwater runoff travels across these impervious surfaces until it reaches rivers, streams, lakes, oceans, or wetlands. Construction activities can affect stormwater runoff by introducing chemicals and debris that are carried by the runoff to water bodies, where they can harm animals and water quality.

There are a number of ways that construction site professionals attempt to minimize pollution caused by stormwater runoff, such as silt fences. These fences consist of a plastic sheet attached to wood or metal stakes. The fence is placed around areas of construction sites that have disturbed earth and keeps soil and other debris contained within the job site.

Barriers such as earth berms, straw bales, and temporary dikes to redirect the flow of stormwater away from construction sites are also used. This is particularly important on sites where a large amount of hazardous chemicals are used.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) have developed recommendations to provide a better understanding of the necessary precautions we need to take to protect streams, lakes and oceans where the water quality may be impacted from harmful chemicals that can potentially be discharged from construction sites, industrial sites and even private land owners.

The EPA offers a comprehensive list of tips for homeowners to help prevent stormwater pollution. By practicing healthy habits we can keep pollutants like pesticides, pet waste, grass clippings, and automotive fluids off the ground and out of the storm sewer system. These recommendations include:

1. Use a commercial car wash.
2. Check your car, boat, motorcycle and other machinery and equipment for leaks and spills
3. Recycle used oil and other automotive fluids at the Universal Waste Recycling Center located at building 2141. Don't dump these chemicals down the storm drain or dispose of them in your trash.
4. Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly. Avoid application, if the forecast calls for rain.
5. Select native plants and grasses that are drought and pest-resistant, since they require less water, fertilizer and pesticides.
6. Sweep up yard debris, rather than hosing down areas. Compost or recycle yard waste when possible.
7. Sweep up and properly dispose of construction debris, such as concrete and mortar.
8. Use hazardous substances like paints, solvents and cleaners in the smallest amounts possible, and follow the directions on the label.
9. Purchase and use nontoxic, biodegradable, recycled and recyclable products whenever possible.
10. Reduce the amount of paved area and increase the amount of vegetated area in your yard. Use native plants in your landscaping to reduce the need for watering during dry periods.

Additionally, new construction as well as repair and remodeling activities on existing buildings can contaminate storm water with a variety of pollutants, including toxic hydrocarbons, suspended soils, heavy metals and oils and greases. To prevent polluted runoff, the Sheppard Air Force Base Stormwater Management Program recommends that the following best management practices be implemented at building construction, repair and remodeling sites.

1. Use soil erosion control techniques, if bare ground is temporarily or permanently exposed.
2. Enclose painting operations, consistent with local air quality regulations.
3. Properly store and dispose of waste materials generated from the activity.
4. Properly store materials that are normally used in repair and remodeling, such as paints and solvents.
5. Sweep paved surfaces on a daily basis, rather than hosing down or using blowers.
6. Use nontoxic substitutes for chemicals when possible. Coordinate ALL chemicals with the HAZMAT (676-7842) prior to use.
7. Clean up spills immediately to minimize safety hazards and deter spreading.
8. Maintain good housekeeping practices while work is underway.
9. Train all employees on best management practices, good housekeeping practices and spill response. Your success depends on an effective training program

For more information, contact Kenneth Johnson, 82 CES/PAE/CEIV, (940) 676-2415.