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Drain cover stormwater safety products from Chemtech

Stormwater runoff solutions are no longer a nice addition to your facility. They are a key asset in your moves to become more sustainable and ecologically friendly. Let’s take a look at how this stormwater sustainability can be achieved.

Manage your use of chemicals

If you are using hazardous chemicals at your facility, it is your responsibility to make sure that these chemicals are handled and managed in the correct way. The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, oversees many different aspects of the industry, including handling chemical waste such as pesticides or battery acids, among other things. Allowing these chemicals to be released into the local water table may see you hit with a heavy fine.

Audit the chemicals you use at your facility. Examine your current handling and management practices and define what you could be doing better as an organization. This will help you to achieve higher levels of sustainability at your facility.

Assess detention and retention needs accurately

Detention and retention are two elements you need to consider as you build an effective stormwater runoff solution. Both terms refer to similar things — arresting the flow of stormwater before it leaves your facility — but they are executed differently. Detention refers to holding back the flow of water temporarily. This means tanks are deployed to store water for a short time before it is released so your storm drains are not overwhelmed.

Retention refers to trapping stormwater so it can be treated and then used in other areas of your business, perhaps as a coolant or in another application. Make calculations to understand how much stormwater you are dealing with at your facility, how much your storm drains can handle, and how much water you can feasibly retain.

Then you can use this formula to define how much volume you need for each stormwater management product, measured in acre-feet:

(The area of your premises, measured in acres x the desired amount of runoff you want to collect in the tank, measured in inches) / 12

Implement wastewater testing

Understanding your wastewater chemistry is a crucial part of achieving improved sustainability for your business. You can’t draw upon this knowledge and this understanding without the right approach to wastewater testing. Water test kits give you an understanding of contaminant levels and other chemicals that may be present within the wastewater. They also provide insight into other aspects, such as oxygen demand.

With water testing kits in place, you can detect any abnormalities and discrepancies in your water chemistry. This can help you to pick up on areas of your business that may not be functioning as they should — for example, if traces of a specific chemical are too high, you may not be storing and managing this chemical in the right way, or you may need to perform a clean-up and refurbishment in a certain area of your facility. Testing can help you understand the next moves you need to make to ensure sustainability.

Adopt a green approach

Artificial building materials, such as concrete, metal, and plastics, are designed to repel water. These materials do not allow significant amounts of water to soak into them. Instead, they allow water to build up until it flows down a concentration gradient to a new location. Water will take the path of least resistance as they flow away from areas of high concentration or as they follow gravitational pull. This transports contaminants and pollutants into the local water table.

Natural, organic materials, such as bio-matter, do not behave like this. Instead, they absorb and process water to an extent. Problems begin to arise when biological matter in the water table becomes overwhelmed. One way to avoid this is by deploying bioretention cells.

bioretention cell is an area of grasses, trees, shrubbery, and other plants. These organisms collect water and utilize it, rather than allowing it to build up and then flow into the nearby environment. These retention cells should not be placed at random. They should be deployed in areas that actively disrupt the flow or buildup of water so they catch water before it can be deposited into the water table. This approach also eases the pressure on your stormwater drains, as there is less material for them to handle.

Update your drainage systems

Stormwater runoff solutions play an important role in achieving sustainability at your facility, but all of this hard work could be undone if your drainage systems are not fit for purpose. Industrial drainage systems — and stormwater drains, in particular — are designed according to the maximum capacity they need to be able to handle. Of course, engineers will use this maximum capacity merely as a guide and will deploy drainage systems that can handle far in excess of this value. In theory, this should futureproof the system.

The reality, however, may be somewhat different. Climate change is having a severe effect on levels of precipitation across the world, including here in the United States. In mainland US, the rate of precipitation has increased by 0.20 inches per decade since 1901, double the global rate of increase. This means locations across the US are now receiving 1 inch more rain than they were in 1971, with many locations receiving far more than this. Increases like these are putting drainage systems under pressure.

There are also other factors to consider. Drainage systems do not last forever and can become damaged or blocked over time, reducing their capacity. Maintenance and repair work is necessary to keep systems operating at full capacity.

Remaining aware of stormwater runoff is key to achieving sustainability

There is an element of “out of sight, out of mind” at play when it comes to stormwater. After stormwater runoff has left your facility, it may seem like it is no longer a problem. However, allowing this water to escape into the water table unchecked or overwhelm your storm drains is seriously problematic.

Remaining mindful of stormwater — and deploying stormwater runoff solutions and best practices that mitigate this — is critical to achieving sustainability for your business.