Protection Begins With Effective Stormwater Management
How to handle stormwater is always a major challenge for many industries. Let’s take the case of marinas. In fact, many who safeguard surface water quality consider marinas to be “the perfect storm” for creating stormwater runoff problems and making existing problems worse.
It’s not surprising, since marinas generally include most, if not all, of the following:
- Oil and gasoline concentrated in small areas.
- Locations directly on the water, so any spills begin dispersing into the water system immediately.
- Added impervious surfaces-parking lots, docks, storage facilities, convenience stores.
- Areas for engine repair and hull and deck refinishing, with potential spills of oil, antifreeze, paint, varnishes, solvents, cleaners with phosphates and ammonia, metal shavings, sawdust, and sandings.
- Pressure-washing sites that contain dislodged paint and metal chips and organic debris.
- Sewage, bilgewater, and trash transported in by, and requiring removal from, boats.
- Boat owners who bring dogs ashore and don’t clean up after them.
- Mostly transient customers, who may not be as motivated to practice good environmental stewardship as they would be at home.
“We’re constantly approached by marinas faced with the overwhelming task of managing stormwater compliance issues,” said Edward (Ted) Sailer, President of ProComplianceWare of Madison, Conn., a customizable web-based environmental management system which organizes and maintains all compliance requirements for any type of industry. “Stormwater lends itself to a host of regulations, which is why marinas need a system in place in order to not just comply, but to avoid hefty fines for non-compliance.”
There are benefits to effectively managing stormwater issues for marinas beyond the usual compliance and environmental factors.
Boat owners who care about clean marinas and the environment tend to choose these marinas even over less expensive ones. So there’s the financial gain for marinas doing “the right thing” — because not all do.
As well, marinas effectively recycling and reusing materials can generate income by reducing disposal fees and decreasing the need to buy new materials. Sailer notes grants are available to install pumpout facilities — another financial benefit potentially. And clean marina owners avoid or reduce future liability and potential cleanup costs. Their insurance companies may also offer incentives and discounts on premiums.
Many of the more compliant marinas across the nation pride themselves on offering first-class service to boaters, even meeting every arrival and helping with the boat’s mooring lines. Services such as a laundry, grocery store, pumpout, fuel dock, restaurant, light maintenance and repair shop, and even concierge service, only serve to enhance the overall image for a marina that “get’s it,” according to Sailer.
These particular marinas also are known to post signs for boaters with the number to call for staff to pick up all hazardous waste, including antifreeze, paint, oil, filters, paint thinner, bilge water, batteries, gasoline, and oily rags. Again, due diligence, and one that makes a terrific impression with customers.
Another helpful approach is having a public education program in place, with signs, brochures, and perhaps even an environmental guidebook — all to impress upon customers the importance of keeping the environment and water clean.
Many other great programs are in place in the top marinas nationwide, but this just gives a glimpse at what’s involved with protecting the marina environmentally — where it all starts.
While our discussion has focused on marinas, most of issues discussed relate directly to many facilities that are required to manage stormwater runoff.