Draining the Complexity from Stormwater Management for Retail Logistics
Warehousing is a particularly challenging business sector to manage stormwater, considering its multiple sources of point source (i.e., discharge from discrete, identifiable, and specific sources) and non-point source (i.e., oil, sediment, and other contaminants picked up from surface water flow/during storm events) pollution.
Warehouse distribution has become a major industry for the US economy after a pandemic-driven surge in e-commerce sales. More than 2 billion square feet of additional storage and distribution space has been constructed and leased in the last four years to accommodate this growth. Warehousing facilities and their ancillary parking lots have drastically changed the physical landscape, changing previously undeveloped land into impervious surfaces and impacting local water sources.
Warehousing facilities are subject to industrial stormwater management regulations to effectively manage and control the release of pollutants to the environment. Although compliance obligations are not complex, the ability to effectively manage stormwater programs can be a challenge.
Why is Stormwater Management Important?
The conservation of water, especially in the face of climate change, requires steps to increase quantity while simultaneously maintaining (or even improving) water quality. But the notion of preserving our nation’s waters is not new. The Clean Water Act (CWA) has sought to protect waters of the US for generations, and it was among the first pieces of environmental legislation passed in this country. As part of the CWA, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits and monitors sources of pollution discharge. Major sources include construction, electric utilities, transportation, and warehousing.
Challenges with Stormwater Management for Retail Logistics
Warehousing is a particularly challenging business sector to manage, considering its multiple sources of point source (i.e., discharge from discrete, identifiable, and specific sources) and non-point source (i.e., oil, sediment, and other contaminants picked up from surface water flow/during storm events) pollution. For retail logistics, point source pollution includes pipes, ditches, channels, or any other type of fixed conveyance. Examples of non-point sources include illegal discharges, spills, sediment, and discharges of chemical substances such as oil, antifreeze, solvents, detergents, etc.
Monitoring and controlling both sources of pollution can be very difficult and high stakes, as heavy metals and organic compounds transported by water are toxic to aquatic life and put significant stress on our nation’s waterways. Retail logistics facilities are challenged with stormwater management because:
Impervious surfaces (e.g., warehouse and parking areas) cause pollutants to wash off more easily during rainstorm events.
Vehicles entering and exiting the facility track and deposit sediment.
Parked vehicles can leak oils and other hazardous substances if not properly maintained.
Poorly managed solid waste containers can release trash and debris.
On-site equipment can leak.
Stormwater features can erode.
Other industrial activities such as truck maintenance, vehicle washing, and outdoor material storage can release hazardous substances to the ground.
The bottom line is that only rainwater should enter the stormwater system. Challenges with managing and controlling many potential sources of pollution can vary by geographic location, further complicating the design and development of consistent and compliant stormwater management programs across large and dispersed facility portfolios.
Managing an Effective Stormwater Program
APTIM is currently assisting a retail logistics client to manage their stormwater compliance risk across more than 350 sites in the eastern US. We conduct routine inspections, sampling, monitoring, and reporting services. The team uses digital technology solutions for mobile data collection and evaluation, geographic information system mapping, weather monitoring, inspection planning, custom reporting, and communication.
We manage large amounts of data generated daily to manage compliance. Having a good process, deep understanding of regulatory requirements, well-trained team, and robust environmental technology solution can drain the complexity from stormwater management for retail logistics.
Supporting Your Program
If you need a partner to support you with stormwater management solutions, APTIM is here to help. Ranked #1 for Top Contractors in Environment: Site Assessment and Compliance in ENR’s 2023 Top 400 Sourcebook, our team provides fit-for-purpose, cost-effective solutions for reducing environmental impacts and maintaining compliance with environmental regulations. Get in touch with our team.
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