Stormwater Pollution Prevention for Truckers

A stormwater permit and a formal Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan are required for most motor trucking facilities and other manufacturers by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD). The deadline for obtaining a stormwater permit has passed for existing facilities. If a company has not yet obtained a permit, EPD should be contacted to begin the permitting process now. A major requirement for obtaining a storm water permit is to create a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan or SWP3. SWP3s use best management practices for materials and facilities to prevent stormwater from becoming contaminated.

Best management practices or BMPs are an integral part of a SWP3 to reduce stormwater contamination. Stormwater can become contaminated when rain mixes with oil, fuel, grease, antifreeze, metals, and many other truck related chemicals. BMPs are developed to reduce the chance that stormwater will become contaminated. The key is prevention. If oil and other truck fluids are stored away from rain and not spilled, then stormwater pollution is reduced. Storing oil containers indoors is a BMP to reduce pollution. Another BMP is to build a cover over fueling islands. Curbs can also be built around covered fueling islands to prevent water from flowing through areas where spills are likely. A critical BMP is to remove or cover storm drains in areas where spills are likely. Most BMPs are very simple. Placing catch pans under trucks leaking oil and not sweeping oil absorbent into a storm drain are very simple examples. Training employees to use these simple methods can reduce pollution, save time, and save dollars.

BMPs can be developed for each location or process in a facility. Fueling areas, maintenance areas, materials storage rooms, and waste storage areas can all be sources of waste and pollution. A team of employees should locate critical areas on a map or plan of the facility. Chemicals and other materials stored or used should be listed; those that are exposed to rain or water flow should be identified. Records should also be reviewed to learn of past spills; inspections should be done to identify current leaks and spills. From this information, BMPs can be developed that are unique for the facility.

A number of trucking facilities wash trucks or engine components. If washing is done outside without the proper containment and sewer hookup, the wash water eventually reaches a storm drain or septic drain field. Water from truck washing is process wastewater. Process wastewater should never be allowed to flow into storm drains or septic drain fields. Process wastewater can be minimized by using simple methods; attaching spring-loaded hose nozzles to hoses used for truck washing will prevent the hoses from being left running when not in use. High pressure spray units can be used also; they use about half as much water as a garden hose and provide better cleaning. Wash water should be disposed of in a municipal sewer system. If a facility is not connected to a sewer system, wash water can be collected and recycled. Water recycling systems are becoming more popular; facilities ranging from small self-serve carwashes to large fleet operations have installed recycling systems.

Using good pollution prevention techniques and avoiding soil and groundwater contamination by employing BMPs can help prevent problems in selling property and obtaining financing on land where trucking facilities are located. Pollution prevention practices can reduce costs today by reducing waste and loss of raw materials. Pollution prevention can also help maintain the value of property. When property is sold, most purchasers or banks require a review of the land’s previous uses, conduct site inspections, and review environmental records of businesses previously located on the property. The reviews will attempt to find evidence of site contamination such as from spills, leaking or hidden underground storage tanks, or septic systems misused for process wastewater. Using BMPs and having a documented and functioning SWP3 can help avoid these problems during property transfer.

The American Trucking Association (ATA) has produced a video to aid truck facilities in designing pollution prevention plans. The video, Developing Stormwater BMPs: A Guide for Vehicle Maintenance & Refueling Operations, can be ordered by calling the ATA at 800-282-5463. This video can be used by any manufacturing facility as a basis for designing an effective pollution prevention plan.

Where to Go for Help

  • Trade Associations
  • American Trucking Association, Karen Medlin, 703-838-1786
  • Georgia Motor Trucking Association, 404-876-4313

Regulatory Compliance

  • Georgia EPD, William Salter 404-656-4887

Stormwater Pollution Prevention Checklist

  • Obtain top management support.
  • Create a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Team made up of management and production employees.
  • Train all employees on pollution prevention, and involve them in your pollution prevention plan.
  • Conduct an initial inspection to identify sources of pollution.
  • Conduct periodic audits and inspections to identify new problems, and measure effectiveness of BMPs.
  • Design BMPs to include as minimum requirements:
    • good housekeeping
    • preventive maintenance
    • visual inspections
    • spill prevention and response
    • sediment and erosion control
    • runoff management
    • employee training
    • record keeping and reporting
  • Set measurable goals
  • Publicize results
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