Stormwater Management: It’s our responsibility and more…

Water to drainWhy should we care about stormwater management? Originally, stormwater management involved primarily quantity of flow and now equally important is quality of water runoff. Since 1970’s, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is responsible for managing runoffs in the United States.

The EPA utilize computerized mapping and models to best manage water runoff, erosion and pollution problems resulting from weather or other fresh water flow. Because of these regulations, municipalities, counties,  and the private sector strive to achieve compliance and more.

Many local districts and even the Department of Health are involved in monitoring stormwater runoff. Nick Madrid, Field Manager of public infrastructure division at Terracare Associates, a leading outdoor maintenance company says “Everything we do each day we consider stormwater management. From our maintenance bays to washing equipment, to road repairs, we evaluate the effects on the environment.” As a property manager or city public works department it’s important to understand how to integrate stormwater management into your ongoing maintenance strategy to achieve the highest level of public safety.

What is Stormwater Management?

Water droplets on truckTraditionally, storm management is focused on collection of storm water through pipes and drainage transporting water runoff as quickly as possible to stream, creeks, rivers and sometimes sewer system. However, storm water management includes anytime water flows at facilities, on roads, off of properties into water systems. Erosion, debris, chemicals, sediment, salt and sand runoff are all part of managing water flows that must be filtered before entering sewers or other fresh water sources.

As described by the EPA, the process starts with storm water, rainwater and melted snow or general maintenance water use that runs off land, streets, lawns, and other urban hard surface environments. When storm water is absorbed into the ground, it is filtered and ultimately replenishes aquifers or flows into streams and rivers.

In developed areas, however, solid surfaces such as pavement and roofs prevent precipitation from naturally soaking into the ground. Instead, the water runs rapidly into storm drains, sewer systems, and drainage ditches picking up debris with it and can’t be absorbed as quickly.

Your Storm Management Plan – Best Management Practices (BMP)

To be EPA compliant it is recommended to follow stormwater Best Management Practice, also known as BMP, to take care of excess runoff pollution problems. They recommend various control measures to reduce the pollution in a wide variety of water flow sources before it is absorbed into the ground. Another approach is to put measures in place to prevent pollution from occurring at all. Facility Runoff Control Plan (FRCP) is a plan that offers stringent guidelines to reduce erosion, filters all water runoff and eliminates contaminants from entering sewers, detention ponds, streams, and creeks.

Terracare Associates strives to achieve 100% containment and the company is continually monitoring anytime the flow of water is disrupted. Terracare’s Nick Madrid has worked in the industry for almost 30 years and has seen dramatic improvements in maintenance of water flows “Every project we work on our team talks about stormwater management and runoff. Internally, stormwater is an active discussion on how we can best reduce contaminants from getting into the water system.” To best maintain water runoff, there are several factors to consider:

1.stormwater managment Water Flow Rate

Any time water is disrupted from natural flow BMP’s are considered. Higher peak flow rates can result in erosion and more contaminants enter the water stream. A higher peak flow rate requires more significant storm pipes and drains and continued maintenance.

2. Water Quality

“What goes in must come out”, this cliché is very appropriate for proper stormwater management. Poor management of runoff with sediments, chemicals, and silt could result in increased contamination and pollution in our waters, impacting fish and wildlife.

3.  Storm Water Volume

A larger volume means greater destruction and erosion of creek beds leading to bank instability, increase sediment deposition in the lower reaches, and loss of habitat.

4.  Groundwater

If groundwater is not allowed to recharge, base flows are reduced leading to longer, drier durations in ditches and streams.

Goal of good Water Management Strategy

Educating the public and training employees is critically important. Maintaining current infrastructure can also be valuable in maintaining a healthy and safe environment. A plan should be made for every project to mimic nature by integrating stormwater management maintenance into building and site developments to reduce the impacts that urbanization has on our natural resources.

Greg Hayes, Colorado Operation Manager of Public Works for Terracare Associates believes “ Whether it is storms or fresh water runoff we have to be diligent about how we manage water, it goes beyond our operations, it’s about public safety and the environment. We tactically discuss BMP’s as projects are implemented”.

Typical Best Management Practices (BMPs) may include

  • Equipment maintenance activities should be performed inside when possible.
  • Spills should be cleaned up immediately & without water whenever possible
  • Floor drains should be sealed and separators installed
  • Increasing topsoil and enhancement to slopes, rocks and inclines near roadways
  • Infiltration trenches and storm gates
  • Storm drains cleaned and maintained
  • Pipes, curbs, and gutters minimize cracks and other damages
  • Detention ponds
  • Ditches and Creeks creating easy flow for runoff and less erosion

Safety is the number one concern of storm management practices. The importance of storm water management in the reduction of flooding and contaminates getting into the water system cannot be overemphasized. Hayes says; “This is the way we do business, it goes beyond regulations. Public safety and protecting our environment is what we believe and the way we conduct business every day at Terracare Associates”.

Terracare Associates public works division offer a wide variety of public works management services such as right-of-way mowing, all-inclusive roadway,  and roadside management packages as well as snow removal on a citywide scale. Find out more contact us

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