Not many businesses or organizations want to see government institute new regulations, but the World Sweeping Association (WSA) is probably on to something when it calls for new EPA regulations requiring parking lot sweeping on a regular basis.
The reason for such new regulations is to help communities and properties achieve the stormwater runoff quality targets they’re responsible for – without having to break the bank to do it. And just like 25 years ago the Americans with Disabilities Act resulted in more and more-frequent work for pavement marking contractors, federal regulations requiring regular parking lot sweeping would be a boon to the sweeping industry.
As the WSA editorial points out, few people would argue that improving water quality is a goal we should pursue. The issue, then, is not what to do but how to do it. The EPA has identified pavement sweeping as a “best management practice” to improving the quality of the water that runs off pavement into storm systems and eventually into rivers, streams and lakes. (And as WSA points out, recent data collected by the City of Seattle confirms that sweeping can reduce pollutants at a cost “4 to 10 times less than end-of-pipe solutions.”)
So in a time when communities are trying to do more with less, requiring minimum levels of parking lot and street sweeping is the easiest and most cost-effective method to use. It would require no modification or improvement in infrastructure and would in fact rely on companies, systems and equipment that is already readily available. As WSA points out, requiring sweeping of parking lots is the “low-hanging fruit” of the effort to improve the quality of stormwater runoff.
Time to pick it.