Local developer contributes to good water quality

Carrie Lamb
Environmental Assistant
Storm Water Services Division
Department of Public Works
City of Springfield, Missouri

When Dan Scott, local architect with Jericho Development Company LLC, began planning the renovation of the Marquette Hotel at Jefferson and Walnut, he knew that power washing would be necessary to remove several layers of paint from the building's exterior. If proper measures were not taken, residue in the wash water would be carried to nearby waterways via the stormwater drainage system. When he contacted Springfield's Storm Water Services Division to inquire about proper handling of the wash water, the Division was pleased to see this concern from the business sector for water quality. The City's Storm Water Services and Sanitary Services Divisions worked with Scott to comply with the stormwater and wastewater regulations mandated by federal and state law.

Following the 1987 amendments to the federal Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enacted the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Storm Water Program in 1990. The NPDES Storm Water Phase 1 Rule requires all cities with a population of 100,000 or more to apply for a permit for discharges from a municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4). An MS4 is separate from a city's sanitary sewer system. Discharges to Springfield's sanitary sewer system flow to one of the city's two wastewater treatment plants. Discharges to the MS4, commonly referred to as the stormwater system, flow to area streams, rivers and lakes.

  Wash water flows down the street curb to the containment area.

Springfield received its NPDES stormwater permit from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in July 2002, becoming the first city in the State of Missouri to do so. This permit assigns to the city the responsibility of monitoring the quality of stormwater discharging from the MS4 to area waterways and requires the development of a stormwater management program. The NPDES Program legislation was not accompanied by a funding appropriation. Cities that are subject to these laws must meet the permit requirements of this unfunded mandate with existing resources. For this reason, voluntary efforts to inquire about good stormwater practices are an extremely valuable part of a successful stormwater management program.

Requirements for improving the quality of stormwater discharges include not only reducing the amount of pollutants in stormwater runoff, such as oil from parking lots and excess nutrients from fertilized lawns, but also reducing the occurrence of prohibited non-stormwater discharges to the stormwater system. Scott's project presented an opportunity to demonstrate how local developers and contractors can comply with the city's requirements.

A sump pump is used to pump the wash water to an onsite sanitary sewer drain.

According to federal and state regulations, wash waters such as those generated from exterior power washing of the Marquette Hotel need to be completely contained and disposed through the city's sanitary sewer system. With the necessary approval from Springfield's Sanitary Services Division, wash waters can be disposed in an onsite sanitary sewer drain or hauled to the wastewater treatment plant by a permitted waste hauler. In either case, a representative sample of the wash waters must meet the pollutant limits specified in Springfield's Wastewater Regulations.

Atkins Weatherproofing, the contractor retained by Scott for the exterior paint removal, employed the services of a local lab for sample analysis and worked with the Sanitary Services Division to obtain approval for disposal of the wash waters in an onsite sanitary sewer drain. Containing and pumping the waters to the sanitary sewer drain was accomplished with the use of a few sandbags and a small sump pump and hose. Frank Atkins, owner of Atkins Weatherproofing, commented on the process of acquiring authorization for proper disposal and implementing the necessary measures at the work site to keep wash waters out of the stormwater system. "It was not as much of a headache as we had anticipated in the beginning," he said. "This project is a pretty difficult one in terms of size and the number of layers of paint to be removed. No contractor should have a problem with doing this on any project." Atkins also commented that the added cost of this process was very small, especially in proportion to the total project cost.

In working with Atkins, the Storm Water Services Division also stressed the importance of good "housekeeping" practices on the project site. Flushing any remaining pools of wash water and residue into the containment area using clean water, completely pumping the containment area, and sweeping up paint shavings and other solids are good practices to implement daily. Checking the precipitation forecast is important to allow ample time for thorough cleanup before rain. If not cleaned up, wash water residues or paint shavings can end up being washed from the site and into the stormwater system during rain.

As Springfield increases its efforts to improve public awareness of stormwater quality issues, simple measures such as those used in this project should become commonplace. This project is just one example of good stormwater practices. Other ways in which businesses and citizens can make an important contribution to protecting the water quality of our community include properly disposing of yard waste and household chemicals, minimizing the use of lawn fertilizers, and reporting illegal discharges and water quality problems.

Carrie Lamb can be reached at (417) 864-1996 or by e-mail at clamb@ci.springfield.mo.us.