April Showers Bring May...Storm Sentinels?
While we are still battling the bitter cold here in the north, many parts of the country are plunging forward into spring. Though this rainy season begets new growth and warmer temperatures it also generates a more unappealing side-effect: flooded streets. I’m certain that nearly everyone reading this post has witnessed water rushing down the road, flowing over the storm drains meant to carry water off the route of our daily commute. This is a direct result of the unfortunate fact that virtually the entire country is outfitted with drainage infrastructure that is as inadequate as it is antiquated. Combined with an ever-increasing population and the addition of impermeable hardscape, these old systems just aren’t equipped to handle today’s storm water needs.
If you have been following along with some of our other blog posts, you know that the validation for the existence of our industry lies in the Clean Water Act. The whole premise of this law is to keep contaminates from entering our water supply. After all, keeping water clean is much easier that having to clean it. This law and logic applies to storm water as well, particularly at this time of year, when soil disruption tends to be higher and rainfall more frequent. Construction projects are beginning anew as the ground thaws. Farmers are preparing and planting their fields. Landscapers are, well, landscaping.
The commonality among all these activities is that they disturb the soil. What’s more, most of our soil is contaminated in some form or fashion, at least as defined by the EPA. Dirt being worked next to roadways contains oil, farm land has fertilizers, and who knows what’s been buried at home sites. Regardless of the source, all of this foreign matter places high stress on an already taxed system, and should be prevented from entering the storm drain.
The most effective long term solution would be updating our infrastructure so that it is properly sized for current and future populations. This could take decades, though, so it is important to use appropriate storm water mitigation and filtration products in the meantime. For example, the Precipitainer, a patented product sold by our sister company, Black Diamond Eco Solutions, is an underground water vault. It can hold rain/storm water short or long term depending on user preference. Ultimately it reduces the amount of liquid being funneled to catch basins, lowering the burden on the system. For more information, check out this case study of a 10,000-gallon system being installed at an ice cream manufacturer in downtown Cleveland. In fact, most cities now have laws requiring storm water offset for every square foot of new hardscape. In other words, any water that you are preventing from naturally going into the ground must be accounted for. Systems such as the Precipitainer are an easy solution.
Yet, even with these larger scale options in mind, the risk posed by contaminated sediment is constant. Enter the Storm Sentinel. This intuitive catch basin insert is unobtrusive and rather simple, but effectively captures polluted sediment, and even oil when properly equipped. What’s more, it keeps you compliant, being and essential part of any Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP). This regulation compliments the Clean Water Act, and such plans are required for most job sites. To be clear, the Storm Sentinel, or any catch basin insert for that matter, is the last line of defense between contaminants and our water treatment facilities. They should be used in conjunction with a holistic pollution prevention program, such as silt fence, erosion control measures, straw wattles, etc.
Water is our most precious resource, being essential for life itself. Therefore, we should do everything possible to reduce the energy required to clean it. The Storm Sentinel has been protecting catch basins for decades, reducing the amount of sediment entering the water supply and trapping pollutants along the way.
This spring, as you enjoy the warmer weather and flush of green from new growth, make a concerted effort to protect excess rain from running off the hardscape. Sure, the law holds you responsible for any sediment leaving a jobsite, but focus on the bigger picture. By keeping water clean in the first place, we avoid the expenditure of excess energy to remove contaminants later on. Out of sight, but never out of mind, the Storm Sentinel sits as a silent guard, furthering our mission of protecting the environment, and your bottom line.