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This winter has been one for the records and if you’re like many of our clients, all of this rain (or snow… polar vortex) is creating a real love-hate relationship with your BMPs (best management practices). After such brutal beatings, your BMPs might want to break up with you or at least they start breaking apart themselves. BMPs are one of those things that you love when they help clean your stormwater and keep you in compliance with your permit, but can also be a major headache to have to keep up with. No matter how much you hate inspecting, replacing and maintaining your BMPs, it’s not only required by your industrial stormwater permit, but it is also essential to make sure that you are keeping the stormwater from your site clean. Below is a guide on how to give your BMPs some likely needed love and attention on this gloomy Valentine’s holiday.  

1. Replace Wattles/Socks/“those sausage looking things”

It’s highly likely that those sausage looking things around your facility’s storm drains or layered down your culverts, look like the pictures below. At this point, your socks or wattles are beginning to contribute to the problem instead of helping to solve it. Most facilities replace these BMPs annually, however, in wet years such as this one, this frequency generally increases to a minimum of twice a year, once right before the rainy season starts and once halfway through. Depending on the pollutant loading at the site this frequency could be bumped up greatly. 

For example there is a major difference in pollutant loading at a landfill with a wide array of hardcore industrial activities and pollutants vs that of a local trucking facility that only has truck traffic and fueling occurring on-site. The pollutant loading can also change in different locations around the site, as part of your routine observations or even daily walks around the site, make sure to look for the following issues:

  1. Are there breaks in the fabric/netting around my socks/wattle?
  2. Is the media in the sock or hay from the wattle starting to come out?
  3. Does the sock/wattle look like it is covered in mud, black from oil/grease or discolored in other ways?

If you said yes to any of these questions, then just like your lying ex, it’s time for them to be replaced.

Hate – Demolished Socks with Media Adding to Pollution

The state of the sock/wattle is not the only important thing to look for, but the positioning is also imperative! When placing socks or wattles in dirt, make sure they are trenched in and are either staked down or have sandbags placed on top to ensure that the stormwater is not flowing under them, or causing them to float and be displaced. If placing around storm drains, make sure that they are over lapping at the edges and have sang bags placed on top so that the stormwater does not flow through the break in the wrapping or under them and bypass the filtration. Proper installation is important to make sure that they are working the way they should and you are not wasting your money on BMPs that stormwater does not even flow through!

Hate – No Overlap, No Filtration


Love – Lovely Overlapping of Socks

2. Drain Inlet Filters

Drain inlet filters are great ways to remove pollutants on industrial sites without having to replace them every other day due to trucks playing target practice like they do with socks or wattles. Though they might not get squished by vehicles, they still need to be maintained and replaced on a regular basis. The main concern with drain inlet filters is that they will become inundated with pollutants and then clog, and potentially bypass the filtration. There are many different kinds of inlet filters from witches hats, to drop inlet filters, but most will have the ability to bypass so that the site does not flood. However, if there is no bypass and the filter clogs… you got it, your site will flood, causing all kinds of other issues!

Hate – Drop Inlet Filter Full of Debris

Long love story short, make sure that you are replacing your drain inlet filters frequently, at a minimum of twice a year, once prior to rainy season and once during the rainy season. If you are in a state where it is always rainy season, then it is a good rule of thumb to replace them quarterly. During dry months place a rubber mat or metal plate over storm drains to prevent the build up of particulate in both the drains as well as the filters.

Love – Clean Drain Inlet Filter

3. Clean Out Storm/Trench Drains and Interceptors  

Storm and trench drains are wonderful ways of conveying and controlling stormwater discharge on an industrial site. Storm drain systems and interceptors allow for the implementation of filters, accessible sample collection points and the ability to pump and contain or treat stormwater. Though they have great potential, they can also cause issues with particulate build up that can later be flushed out, right into your stormwater samples. Making sure to regularly clean out your storm/trench drains and stormwater interceptors, again prior to rainy season, and as needed throughout the rainy season, can make a major difference between exceeding stormwater samples and not.

Hate – Trench Drain Build-up

There are multiple ways that you can clean your storm/trench drains and interceptors. Wet vacs are always an easier in-house way of tackling this task, but if you are not thrilled with the idea of doing it yourself, then you can have an outside contractor come in and pressure wash your system. However, be aware that certain states require that this water is collected and disposed of properly, as it can be considered an illicit discharge, and can be illegal to let the water flow out of your discharge points into the stormwater system.

Love – Trench Drain after Powerwash

4. Containment/Treatment Systems

Containment and treatment systems must also be maintained throughout the year, so sticking with the common theme here, make sure that you are consistently checking your systems especially in years where there is more precipitation than usual. One major issue that we are seeing with this year’s massive amount of precipitation, is that most containment systems are built to a certain standard which are designed to capture a certain size storm, but not all storms and certainly not an entire season of crazy storm events that happen back to back not allowing for reuse or infiltration of the stormwater. When building containment systems it is not only important to build them to the design storm standards, but also to think through what will happen with the stormwater after it is captured and how this plan might be affected by the years with high precipitation. Removal of sludge and proper disposal is also very important to ensure that you maintain the maximum capacity of storage for your containment tanks, basin, or other storage method.

Hate – Build-up of Sludge Settling System

Treatment systems run into other issues related to pollutant loading just like the other BMPs in this love letter. The type of treatment train, the media used and, you guessed it, the amount of pollutants entering the system, will all affect the needs and frequency of maintenance. Many facilities will purchase O&M (operations and maintenance) packages from their treatment system provider. If you are trying to save on costs or be a DIY’er, just make sure you understand the factors mentioned above and how this will ultimately affect the frequency of maintenance needed for your particular system.

Love – Fresh Sand Media in a Treatment System

Keep the Love Alive!

High levels of pollutant loading on both containment and treatment systems will cause an increased frequency for maintenance, which leads to spending more money and time, kinda like that one needy girlfriend you had back in college. To help limit this, ensure that the minimum BMPs such as sweeping, spill and leak prevention, preventative maintenance and training are all being routinely implemented. In the long run this will save you a lot of heartache (only a little pun intended). Your relationship with you BMPs can be more love than hate by regularly inspecting replacing and maintaining your facility’s BMPs and giving them the TLC they require (and deserve), they will in-turn provide you with the best Valentine’s Day gift an industrial facility could ask for, compliance.

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