During the winter months, street sweeping takes on another level of sediment control. Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, it is no surprise to learn that the Truckee Meadows gets its fair share of snow. And like other municipalities across the country, it has adopted a set of rules directly related to snow events to reduce the amount of sediment to waterways and the air.
In the Truckee Meadows they have done this by reducing the amount of sand used per lane mile by 50% while increasing the amount of sweeping to pick up the excess sand. By using sand strategically — reducing the amount laid on straightaways and concentrating sand lay down on curves and intersections — this has been implemented without affecting winter driving safety. The Truckee Meadows program also requires agencies to sweep up after a sanding event within four days or as soon as weather permits.
Controlling sediment on construction projects
In addition to municipal activities, the Truckee Meadows storm water management program also oversees the storm water discharge programs on construction and industrial sites.
Some BMPs often used on construction sites that minimize erosion are laying straw or planting temporary vegetation to minimize erosion and help water soak into the soil. To keep sediment on site, silt fences and retention ponds are commonly used BMPs. Construction sites close to storm drain inlets might also place temporary fiber rolls or gravel bags in front of the drain, which would allow water to flow into the drain while filtering out sediment. Remember that BMPs are often very effective, but only if they are maintained properly.
Another effective BMP used to keep trucks and equipment from tracking sediment off site is minimizing the number of exits/entrances on the construction site and using tracking pads at those points of exit. Tracking pads are usually 50 feet x 100 feet and consist of a layer of filter fabric on top of the exposed soil with a 6-inch pad of 3-inch rock on top of the fabric. If sediment is still being tracked onto the road outside the tracking pad, regular sweeping of this area is needed.
Nationwide, building contractors often hire sweeping companies to keep their sites clean and in compliance with EPA regulations. It is important for contract sweepers to be aware of the EPA's storm water rules applicable in their individual areas so they can answer any regulation questions that come up when a construction company or industrial firm contracts them to do sweeping.
From a competitive standpoint it's also to a sweeper's advantage to know the EPA storm water rules. Construction contractors, industrial operations, and even homeowners associations are more likely to hire a sweeping company that can help them comply with EPA regulations, giving them piece of mind, than a sweeper who is ignorant of the rules.
Keeping the public informed
It is not only important for construction contractors and industrial sites to be familiar with the EPA rules and understand why they are in place, but it is also important for the public to know about storm water management. Public education and participation is a key factor in a successful storm water management program.
Most people do not realize that storm water runoff does not go through their city's waste water treatment system. Homeowners need to know why they should not dump old paint into a storm drain, and homeowners associations need to realize the value of regular sweeping. That is why public outreach has become an important part of the Truckee Meadows program.
In an effort to educate the public on the issue of storm water, the Truckee Meadows sponsors disposal days for citizens to properly get rid of paint, lawn fertilizer, or other dangerous chemicals to keep them out of the storm water system. The Truckee Meadows has also held public storm drain stenciling events and done television and radio commercial campaigns. Svetich says these programs help people realize that runoff drains directly into their waterways.
As a street sweeper, it is beneficial for you to educate yourself, your employees, and your customers on the importance of keeping sediment out of your community's storm water system. Homeowners associations, shopping centers, and other customers will be more willing to pay for a service if they understand that sweeping is not just for aesthetic reasons, but is also helping the environment and will protect them from fines.