Large-scale manufacturers tend to own a lot of property and use a lot of water to cool equipment, which provides ample opportunity to protect water quality. If your facility discharges to a local waterway, you are likely already required to obtain a NPDES permit for “Discharges of Stormwater Associated with Industrial Activities” from the PA Department of Environmental Protection. Regardless, choosing to go beyond what is required and/or installing green infrastructure on your grounds will keep waterways clean, help you meet regulations, and reduce operational costs.
Whether you are designing a new facility or looking to improve upon existing infrastructure, there are many options available to treat storm- and wastewater. Converting asphalt or turf lawns to a meadow captures more stormwater, provides wildlife habitat, and reduces mowing costs. Upgrading BMPs that manage water quantity, such as stormwater basins, to those that also manage water quality (think large-scale bioretention basins or wetlands) will make a big difference in water treatment and infiltration. Capturing rainwater in large cisterns will save you money on water bills if you use this water to cool equipment and clean surfaces. Inspecting your facility regularly will help you catch and correct any unauthorized chemical or pollutant discharges. And of course, planting a forested buffer along a stream is one of the most effective ways to treat sediment and nutrient runoff.
If you are interested in adding green infrastructure to your facility, consider this list of Local Partners and Firms that have received green infrastructure training. You can also take a look at the resources below.
The EPA page on NPDES permitting for Industrial and Commercial Facilities provides resources about the NPDES program and the requirements to obtain and maintain an industrial permit.
The Nature Conservancy has worked with several companies (including The Dow Chemical Company and Shell) to develop a series of green infrastructure case studies for industrial facilities.
The Environmental Defense Fund + Business program works with companies to find sustainable solutions that improve both the environment and companies’ bottom lines.