printech, March, 2004
Prevent Stormwater Pollution from Building & Grounds Maintenance

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From: Gary Jones ( )
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2004 16:54:01

FYI - From Water and Wastewater Products online .

Tips: Prevent stormwater pollution from building and grounds maintenance, part I

Stormwater runoff from building and grounds maintenance activities can be contaminated with toxic hydrocarbons in solvents, fertilizers and pesticides, suspended solids, heavy metals, abnormal pH and oils and greases.

The California Stormwater Quality Association offers the following tips on preventing stormwater pollution from building and grounds maintenance. For more information, visit

Note: These tips reflect California regulations. Be sure to adhere to applicable regulations in your area.

The following protocols are designed to prevent or reduce the discharge of pollutants to stormwater from building and grounds maintenance activities by washing and cleaning up with as little water as possible, preventing and cleaning up spills immediately, keeping debris from entering storm drains and maintaining the stormwater collection system.

Pollution prevention
• Switch to nontoxic chemicals for maintenance when possible.
• Choose cleaning agents that can be recycled.
• Encourage proper lawn management and landscaping, including use of native vegetation.
• Encourage use of integrated pest management techniques for pest control.
• Encourage proper onsite recycling of yard trimmings.
• Recycle residual paints, solvents, lumber and other materials as much as possible.

Suggested protocols

Pressure washing of buildings, rooftops and other large objects
• In situations where soaps or detergents are used and the surrounding area is paved, pressure washers must use a water collection device that enables collection of wash water and associated solids. A sump pump, wet vacuum or similarly effective device must be used to collect the runoff and loose materials. The collected runoff and solids must be disposed of properly.
• If soaps or detergents are not used, and the surrounding area is paved, wash runoff does not have to be collected but must be screened. Pressure washers must use filter fabric or some other type of screen on the ground and/or in the catch basin to trap the particles in wash water runoff.
• If you are pressure washing on a grassed area (with or without soap), runoff must be dispersed as sheet flow as much as possible, rather than as a concentrated stream. The wash runoff must remain on the grass and not drain to pavement.

Landscaping activities
• Dispose of grass clippings, leaves, sticks or other collected vegetation as garbage, or by composting. Do not dispose of collected vegetation into waterways or storm drainage systems.
• Use mulch or other erosion control measures on exposed soils.

Next week, part II of these tips will feature suggestions for building repair and remodeling; mowing, trimming and planting; fertilizer and pesticide management; and more.

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