Good News for Sweepers

More cities are having difficulties meeting their stormwater pollution reduction goals. This bad news for the environment has the potential to become good news for sweeping contractors. Water quality improvement, as long predicted, is becoming the ‘next big thing,’ and the power sweeping industry is increasingly moving to the forefront as a cost-effective way to clean up America’s waterways.

The Clean Water Act requires municipalities to reduce runoff pollution. The City of Seattle finds street sweeping to be at least 4-to-10 times more cost-effective at doing so than the next best end-of-the-pipe method. As a result, Seattle will be doubling its sweeping program in 2016.

However, since even with enhanced street sweeping many jurisdictions are still not hitting their goals, an increasing number are realizing the value of requiring parking area sweeping throughout their business community in order to reduce the pollution that’s getting to the streets in the first place.

A number have enacted ‘impervious area runoff fees’ on their business communities; essentially, this is a tax on paved surface areas that can exceed $1000/month. Collected money has historically been used to address pollution at the end-of-the-pipe.

However, agencies in places as geographically diverse as New Hampshire and Texas are now recommending that fee discounts be given to businesses that have their properties swept by an air sweeper on a consistent basis. In order to be attractive, fee discounts are structured such that it costs less to hire a sweeping contractor than it does to pay the entire runoff fee, which is what savvy municipalities are learning to do — in part by consulting with us at the World Sweeping Association.

Contractors who educate themselves about this advancing trend may well find an opportunity for both increased street sweeping and more universal parking area sweeping. To learn more about what’s going on in this area, check out the articles in’s free monthly newsletter ( or contact me via email sent to [email protected].

WSA contributor Ranger Kidwell-Ross has been providing information to the power sweeping industry since 1988. He is editor of, an information resource for power sweeping, as well as founder and executive director of the World Sweeping Association. For more information about WSA visit or contact Kidwell-Ross at [email protected].