Stormwater is an ongoing headache for facility managers. Without proper storm drain solutions, it becomes difficult to maintain regulatory compliance on-site, especially as the facility grows. Cleaning and maintaining your storm drains are crucial steps in ensuring ongoing viability.
The Environmental Protection Agency provides digital tools and calculators to help facility managers and other stakeholders plan their storm drain infrastructure. However, no matter how well developed your infrastructure is, a continual project of cleaning and maintenance is still crucial.
Taking the right proactive steps at the beginning of the process is very useful in making cleaning and maintenance easier further down the line. By preparing drains in the right way, you can eliminate much of the hassle of ongoing drain upkeep.
Remove Pollutants from Stormwater
Businesses need to take full responsibility for all the pollutants and contaminants they release, including stormwater pollutants. Allowing polluted water to flow into drains may cause hazardous effluent and residue to build up in the drain, making it difficult to clean the drain on an ongoing basis. It can also cause harm to the local environment. Nitrogen and phosphorus are two of the main stormwater pollutants, but industrial facilities may also find traces of toxic chemicals in their stormwater. Preliminary stormwater treatment is a good way to solve this problem, as this will ensure that the worst of the pollutants are removed before the water enters the drain.
Designate and Label Storm Drains
Team members need to know which of your drains are storm drains. Communication and training for personnel will help with this, as well as the proper labeling of all drains. You need to make sure that storm drains are never left blocked and are never used as waste disposal solutions – two things that could hinder the efficacy of the storm drain solution.
Prevent Direct Discharge into Storm Drains
Where possible, avoid uncontrolled discharge into the storm drain. While drains are designed to be ‘catchall’ solutions, you should still be able to control how much material is flowing into the drain. Stormwater capture – which we will discuss in greater detail later on – can provide you with some of this control. It will also be useful to implement an overflow system, by which the release of stormwater can be staggered to prevent the drains from becoming overwhelmed.
Ongoing Cleaning and Maintenance
Storm drain maintenance is an ongoing project, and you will need to make sure the infrastructure remains clean and free from blockages in the long term. The following tips will help you to achieve this.
Choose the Right Kind of Filter
The idea of a storm drain filter is to allow water to sluice through as efficiently and effectively as possible, without allowing any other materials to pass through into the drain. In order to choose the right filter, you need to assess what kind of material you are trying to keep out of the drain. If the water is flowing down a clear concrete culvert, you may not need to worry about smaller materials washing into the drain opening – in this case, a larger-gauge filter will be sufficient. If stormwater is passing over broken ground or over gravel and aggregate, a smaller-gauge filter will be required to keep this material out of the drain.
Inspect Filters Regularly and Change When Required
You will need to check all drain filters and drain guards regularly to make sure they are working as intended. Over time, filters and guards may become clogged or blocked. This will cause the drains to operate inefficiently at best, and could cause flooding in the worst-case scenario. Make sure there is no blockage in the filter, and change any filters that are becoming corroded or degraded.
Be Aware of Effluent When Flushing Storm Drains
You may need to flush your storm drains as part of the cleaning and maintenance process – this will be especially necessary after longer periods of dry weather when you do not have a regular flow of water through the system. Just be aware that this will still result in effluent discharge. Even if you are using clean water to flush the storm drains, there may be residual chemicals or materials that have become lodged in the drain itself. As such, great care will need to be taken to ensure that this contaminated water does not enter the local water table.
Alternatives to Direct Discharge
It might be time to rethink your relationship with stormwater. Yes, you still need storm drain solutions that will remove this material from your business premises, but you may not need to remove all of it. Instead, you can ease the strain on your storm drain infrastructure with a program of stormwater capture.
Stormwater capture can provide your facility with a number of different benefits:
- Stormwater is cheaper to treat and process than other types of water, such as wastewater and seawater.
- Treating stormwater and using it on your site – for cooling machinery and other systems, for example – means you do not need to source additional water from elsewhere. This can reduce your operating costs and carbon footprint.
- Reducing the volume of water that travels through the storm drain system will minimize wear and tear and extend the life of drain components.
- When some of the stormwater is captured and siphoned off, there is less chance of the storm drain becoming overwhelmed, which may reduce the risk of flooding.
A Responsible Attitude to Maintenance Can Help You Get the Best Out of Your Storm Drain Solutions
You need your storm drain solutions to remain fit for purpose for longer, effectively removing any stormwater from your site. Letting the drain fall into disrepair, or allowing the system to become overwhelmed, is a surefire way to reduce the lifespan of your infrastructure. Remaining responsible and proactive when it comes to maintenance and stormwater management is the best way to ensure your drains serve your premises properly on a long-term basis.