These rainy spring days are a great time to think about stormwater. Does your industrial facility need to have a stormwater permit? Let's find out.
Why is stormwater such a big deal?
When it rains, stormwater flows across roofs, parking lots, and any items stored outdoors as it makes its way into storm sewers where it is carried to waterways such as creeks, lakes and rivers. When stormwater mixes with industrial pollutants such as oils, solvents, or debris, this can end up polluting our beaches and water supplies.
A Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP for short) is required as part of the EPA's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program. Although this is a federal requirement, some states with stricter rules may implement their own regulations. The first step to determining eligibility is to identify your facility's SIC code. For a complete list of industries and SIC codes required to have a stormwater permit, take a look at this EPA fact sheet: https://www3.epa.gov/region10/pdf/npdes/stormwater/does_your_facility_need_a_stormwater_permit.pdf.
Your facility may be exempt from the stormwater requirements if a) it falls under a non-eligible SIC code, b) it meets "No Exposure" criteria, or c) the facility is located in a municipality with a combined, rather than sewer system. "No exposure" simply means that all industrial activities take place indoors, with no opportunities for stormwater to become contaminated. To qualify for the no exposure exemption, facilities must ensure that industrial activities and equipment (other than vehicles) are covered or kept inside, dumpsters remain covered, and the No Exposure Certification form is submitted to the EPA every 5 years. (https://www3.epa.gov/npdes/pubs/msgp2008_appendixk.pdf) .
Combined vs. Separate Sewer Systems
Some municipalities have 'combined' sewer systems, meaning that the water from storm sewers is combined with the sanitary sewer system. In a combined system, all water (except in the case of overflow) goes to a treatment facility prior to discharge into a water body. flowing into storm drains is combined with the sanitary sewer system. Combined sewer systems are more common in urban areas than in rural ones. If your facility is located in a municipality with combined systems, you do not need a stormwater permit. Unsure? In addition to calling your local municipal offices, take a look at the storm drains next time you are walking around outside. Many drain covers in separate systems say "NO DUMPING -DRAINS DIRECTLY TO WATERWAYS."
For more information on ISO 14001:2015 and Storm Water Pollution Prevention Programs please call 248-890-9283.