Non-Structural Approach to Stormwater Pollution Prevention

By Mark Hubbard // 30Jul2020


A Stormwater pollution prevention plan is essential for the development of measures aimed at the elimination of illicit discharges. Although most of the attention toward pollution prevention in the Stormwater Plan is given to the structural BMPs, a plan for the use of non-structural BMP can also play an integral role. 

One such example is the vacuum street sweeper. While we are all familiar with the street sweepers utilized by most cities and towns, that same methodology of pollution control can be very effective during the construction phase of a subdivision

With strict stormwater requirements the use of a vacuum street sweeper can be a valuable tool in preventing pollutants from entering our local waterways. As water flows down the streets, it can pick sediment which can be carriers for other types of pollutants, such as concrete and paint washout, spilled chemicals, as well as trash and debris. The water can then carry these contaminants across the pavement, through the drain and out to the local environment, eventually reaching ground and surface waters.

Vacuum sweepers are proven to be effective at picking up fine-grained particulates in addition to coarse materials and debris. Today’s commercial sweepers can capture 60 to 90 percent of pollutants (depending on the model and environment). Some newer “High Tech” sweepers can also have a herbicide application system to control vegetation.

Removing the sediment and pollutants from the street before they reach the storm drain is far more economical than having to remove it through soil remediation. However, to be effective, sweeping must be conducted regularly. Please talk to your local Earthworks Compliance Manager to further discuss the advantages of a sweeper program at your site.