Tips for Businesses:
Keeping Your Stream Healthy


Operate your business responsibly to eliminate discharges into storm drains.
Never store waste materials in the street or near the stream.

 Never pour oil or grease down a storm drain or sanitary sewer.
Food service businesses produce pollutants such as oil, grease, detergents, and food scraps. Grease and oil discharged into storm drains can enter the stream and decrease the oxygen content of the water, coat fish gills, and smother bottom-dwelling organisms. Food scraps can cause excessive nutrient loading in the stream, which uses up oxygen needed by fish and other organisms.

Be a zero-discharger.
When you reuse and recycle fluids and other products, they never become wastes. Purchase reusable or recyclable materials whenever you can. If your business routinely uses chemicals or cleaning compounds, consider "closed loop" processes that recycle these materials.

Cover and maintain dumpsters.
Open or leaking dumpsters are common causes of water pollution. Close dumpster lids, place dumpsters under roofs, or cover them with plastic sheeting at the end of each work day and during rainy weather. Inspect dumpsters regularly for leaks, and repair or replace any dumpster that is not water-tight. Return dumpsters to trash haulers for cleaning. Do not hose them down or clean them on site.

Clean up leaks, drips, and other spills without water whenever possible.
Use rags for small spills, a damp mop for general cleanup, and absorbent materials (such as cat litter) for larger spills. Clean up spills immediately. Avoid hosing or wet-mopping outdoor work areas. Dispose of clean-up materials properly. Do not dump them outside or in the stream. When cleaning inside, collect mop water and discharge into a sink or toilet.

Label storm drains so employees do not dispose of waste there.
Contact your local Environmental Management Council to find out where to obtain storm drain stencils.

Use stream-friendly washing methods for vehicles and equipment.
Do not wash cars, trucks or other equipment in a paved parking lot or street where soap and water can flow into the stream or a storm drain. Install a "wash pad" to capture, pre-treat, and discharge the wash water to the sanitary sewer or consider using a commercial car wash. The community storm drain network (gutters, streets, and storm drains) are designed to carry water to your local water body.

Overflowing Dumpsters (photo by DCEMC, 2000)

Keep pollutants off exposed surfaces.
Place trash cans around your business to minimize litter. Dispose of waste appropriately in covered dumpsters or recycling receptacles. Trash discarded in the parking lot will eventually wash into the stormdrain and into the local water body.

Control parking lot and site drainage.
Strategic grading of parking lots and other outdoor spaces can prevent runoff from contacting potentially contaminated areas and reaching streams and sensitive areas. When building or grading parking areas, consider installation of oil-water separator equipment in catch basins. Clean parking lots regularly using street sweepers and dry clean-up methods, avoiding washing the lot with water.

Check rain gutters and other pipes to see where they drain. Make sure they do not carry water directly into the stream.
Runoff from roof surfaces contributes to the decline of stream health. Pipes projecting directly into a stream bank or flexible pipes allowed to drape down a bank cause erosion. Consider using cisterns, on-site filtration or gray-water systems to capture roof run-off. Contact your local Environmental Management Council or Soil and Water Conservation District for additional information.

Train employees and keep customers informed.
If employees misunderstand how to handle waste, costly pollution incidents can occur. Make sure that all employees understand and implement appropriate practices. Educate your customers as well, and prevent them from disposing of wastes improperly on your site.

Carefully remove trash, litter, and other dumped debris from the stream.
Unfortunately, some people think of streams as garbage dumps. You don’t have to look far to find old shopping carts, used appliances, mattresses, car parts, bottles, cans, plastic, styrofoam and paper litter. This debris can become a hazard during floods. It can be a potential threat to our groundwater quality and provide breeding places for rodents and mosquitoes. Styrofoam packing material is especially harmful to wildlife because it can be mistaken for food.

Remove old tires, garbage, and litter from your property. Never store these materials within the flood zone. They may be carried away during storm events. If you need help cleaning up the stream, contact some of the organizations listed on the back page for ideas and assistance.
EMC materials developed by Dave Burns, Watershed Coordinator, Dutchess County Environmental Management Council.
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