Businesses can make small, low-cost changes to reduce stormwater pollution.
If your business uses a dumpster, loading dock, hazardous materials or simply a parking lot, it is a candidate for improving stormwater pollution prevention practices. It’s easy to make small, low-cost changes that will have a big impact on stopping stormwater pollution. And, because businesses offer a public face to the community, your efforts will help lead your community towards better stormwater management. For a more complete list of stormwater pollution prevention practices at your business, and to ensure your business is in compliance with local stormwater regulations, complete our Business Self-Inspection Checklist.
Soil Erosion and Sediment Control
- For construction-related businesses, please visit our Soil Erosion and Sediment Control page.
Eliminate Illicit Discharges
- Eliminating connections to storm sewers is a critical step to ensuring that your business isn’t contributing to stormwater pollution.
- Check to ensure that you do not have connections that discharge to a stormdrain. If you do, arrange for disconnection.
Manage Hazardous Materials
- Examples of hazardous materials include process chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, cleaning materials, waste materials, oil, and gasoline.
- Store hazardous materials inside or under cover to keep them out of the rain and snow, and away from any location where leaks could get into stormdrains or waterways (e.g. near sump pumps).
- We recommend storing hazardous materials in a secondary containment system large enough to contain the material if the container began to leak. This can be as simple as putting materials in a bucket or basin.
- Make a current spill response plan and train employees so that they are familiar with it.
- Keep “dry” cleaning materials such as a broom, mop, saw dust, or kitty litter available for cleaning up spills. Do not use water to rinse off a spill.
Keep Up With Good Housekeeping
- Ensure that dumpsters remain covered and leak-proof. Locate dumpsters away from stormdrains, and keep the drain plugs in.
- Use a mop sink for cleaning floor mats and equipment. Pour wash water in the sink, not outside.
- Wash vehicles at a commercial car wash. If you must wash vehicles or equipment outdoors, use water only, not soap, wash on grassy areas, and divert water from stormdrains.
- Keep parking lot and service areas clean. Provide trash bins and empty them regularly. Divert water from loading docks.
- Keep wetlands and shoreline areas clean and in natural condition. Whenever possible, allow vegetation to grow into a natural buffer instead of mowing to wetland edges.
- Water wisely and limit fertilizer use. Consider replacing some lawn area with low-maintenance plantings.
- Reach out to local businesses with our factsheet Stormwater Management At Your Business. Factsheets may be adapted for businesses within a specific municipality, as well. See examples from North Smithfield and Lincoln.
- Educate other business owners and residents alike about their responsibilities under your Town’s IDDE ordinance. We’ve prepared a Storm Drain Pollution Prevention Ordinance Overview as a factsheet, and PowerPoint presentation you can adopt for your town to describe the purpose of the ordinance as well as regulatory requirements and local contacts for reporting violations.
- Highlight stormwater-friendly business practices in the media by publishing an Op-ed “Good Housekeeping Means Cleaner Waters” or communicate directly with a specific business using these sample letters to business owners and municipalities.
- Introduce local businesses to Low Impact Development (LID) practices with this factsheet, LID Alternatives for RI Businesses.
Looking For More Ways To Help Encourage Stormwater-Friendly Business Practices?
- Help get an Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE) ordinance adopted within your town to require that businesses follow current recommendations regarding stormwater pollution prevention. We can provide a Model Stormwater Prevention Ordinance to help you and your public officials draft one for your town as well as sample press releases seeking public comment and announcing the adoption of the ordinance.
- Businesses located in Burrillville, Glocester, North Smithfield, Lincoln, Cumberland, Central Falls, Pawtucket, or Woonsocket are eligible to join the Blackstone River Coalition’s In Business For the Blackstone Program to earn recognition for their stormwater-friendly practices and strengthen their position in the community. To learn more or to schedule a presentation, contact Peter Coffin at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-753-6087.