Best management practice for water pollution

Best management practices (BMPs) is a term used in the United States and Canada to describe a type of water pollution control. Historically the term has referred to auxiliary pollution controls in the fields of industrial wastewater control and municipal sewage control, while in stormwater management (both urban and rural) and wetland management, BMPs may refer to a principal control or treatment technique as well.

Trounce Pond
A retention pond for treatment of urban runoff (stormwater).


Beginning in the 20th century, designers of industrial and municipal sewage pollution controls typically utilized engineered systems (e.g. filters, clarifiers, biological reactors) to provide the central components of pollution control systems, and used the term "BMPs" to describe the supporting functions for these systems, such as operator training and equipment maintenance.

Stormwater management, as a specialized area within the field of environmental engineering, emerged later in the 20th century, and some practitioners have used the term BMP to describe both structural or engineered control devices and systems (e.g. retention ponds) to treat polluted stormwater, as well as operational or procedural practices (e.g. minimizing use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides). Other practitioners prefer to use the term Stormwater control measure, due to the varied definitions of the term "BMP" and its use in non-stormwater practice.[1]

U.S. Clean Water Act References to "BMP"

Congress referred to BMP in several sections of the U.S. Clean Water Act (CWA) but did not define the term.

  • The 1977 CWA used the term in describing the areawide waste treatment planning program[2] and in procedures for controlling toxic pollutants associated with industrial discharges.[3] The "Section 404" program, which covers dredge and fill permits, refers to BMPs in one of the enforcement exemptions.[4]
  • References to stormwater BMPs first appear in the 1987 amendment to the CWA in describing the Nonpoint Source Management Demonstration Program.[5]
  • Another stormwater BMP reference was added in 2001 with the authorization for a Wet Weather Watershed Pilot Project program.[6]

EPA definitions

In implementing the CWA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defined BMP in the federal wastewater permit regulations, initially to refer to auxiliary procedures for industrial wastewater controls.

...schedules of activities, prohibitions of practices, maintenance procedures, and other management practices to prevent or reduce the pollution of waters of the United States, BMPs also include treatment requirements, operating procedures, and practices to control plant site runoff, spillage or leaks, sludge or waste disposal, or drainage from raw material storage.[7]

Later the Agency added a reference to stormwater management BMPs.

...each NPDES permit shall include conditions meeting the following requirements when applicable... (k) Best management practices (BMPs) to control or abate the discharge of pollutants when: ... (2) Authorized under section 402(p) of the CWA for the control of storm water discharges...[8]

Industrial wastewater BMPs

Industrial wastewater BMPs are considered an adjunct to engineered treatment systems. Typical BMPs include operator training, maintenance practices, and spill control procedures for treatment chemicals.[9] There are also many BMPs available which are specific to particular industrial processes, for example:

  • source reduction practices in metal finishing industries (e.g. substituting less toxic solvents or using water-based cleaners);
  • in the chemical industry, capturing equipment washdown waters for recycle/reuse at various process stages;
  • in the paper industry, using process control monitoring to optimize bleaching processes, and reduce the overall amount of bleach used.[10]

Stormwater management BMPs

Stormwater management BMPs are control measures taken to mitigate changes to both quantity and quality of urban runoff caused through changes to land use. Generally BMPs focus on water quality problems caused by increased impervious surfaces from land development.[11] BMPs are designed to reduce stormwater volume, peak flows, and/or nonpoint source pollution through evapotranspiration, infiltration, detention, and filtration or biological and chemical actions.[12] BMPs also can improve receiving-water quality by extending the duration of outflows in comparison to inflow duration (known as hydrograph extension), which dilutes the stormwater discharged into a larger volume of upstream flow.[13]

Stormwater BMPs can be classified as "structural" (i.e., devices installed or constructed on a site like Sediment Control Fence, Rock Filter Dams, Erosion Control Logs, Excelsior Wattle, Sediment Traps and numerous other proprietary products) or "non-structural" (procedures, such as modified landscaping practices, soil disturbing activity scheduling, or street sweeping). There are a variety of BMPs available; selection typically depends on site characteristics and pollutant removal objectives. EPA has published a series of stormwater BMP fact sheets for use by local governments, builders and property owners.[14]

Stormwater management BMPs can be also categorized into four basic types:

  1. Storage practices: ponds; recovery; green infrastructure design.
  2. Vegetative practices: buffers; channels; green roofs; wetlands; functional art; stormwater wetland park design; wetland park engineering & design.
  3. Filtration/Infiltration practices: filtering; infiltration; rain gardens; porous pavement; civic infrastructure and design; functional stormwater design.
  4. Water sensitive development: better site design; open space site design; low impact development.

See also


  1. ^ National Research Council, Committee on Reducing Stormwater Discharge Contributions to Water Pollution (2009). "5. Stormwater Management Approaches". Urban Stormwater Management in the United States. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. ISBN 978-0-309-12540-6.
  2. ^ United States. Clean Water Act of 1977, Pub.L. 95-217, December 27, 1977. Sections 208 (b), (i) and (j), 33 U.S.C. § 1288.
  3. ^ CWA sec. 304(e), 33 U.S.C. § 1314(e).
  4. ^ CWA sec. 404(f), 33 U.S.C. § 1344.
  5. ^ Water Quality Act of 1987, Pub.L. 100-4, February 4, 1987. CWA sec. 319(a),(b),(h),(l), & (m), 33 U.S.C. § 1329.
  6. ^ Wet Weather Water Quality Act of 2000, December 21, 2000. Added by the Miscellaneous Appropriations Act, 2001 (114 Stat. 2763A–225), as enacted into law by section 1(a)(6) of Pub.L. 106–554 (114 Stat. 2763). Amended CWA sec.121(a)(2), 33 U.S.C. § 1274.
  7. ^ U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, D.C. "EPA Administered Permit Programs: The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System." Code of Federal Regulations, 40 C.F.R. 122.2.
  8. ^ EPA. 40 C.F.R. 122.44.
  9. ^ For example: Best Management Practices and Spill Response: Guidance Document (PDF) (Report). Edmonton, AB: Alberta Environmental Protection. July 1994.
  10. ^ "Ch. 3. Industry-Specific Best Management Practices". Guidance Manual for Developing Best Management Practices (BMP) (PDF) (Report). EPA. October 1993. EPA-833-B-93-004.
  11. ^ National Research Council, Committee on Reducing Stormwater Discharge Contributions to Water Pollution (2009). "3. Hydrologic, Geomorphic, and Biological Effects of Urbanization on Watersheds". Urban Stormwater Management in the United States. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. ISBN 978-0-309-12540-6.
  12. ^ Debo, Thomas N.; Reese, Andrew J. (2003). Municipal Stormwater Management (2nd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. ISBN 1-56670-584-3.
  13. ^ Granato, G.E. (2014). Statistics for stochastic modeling of volume reduction, hydrograph extension, and water-quality treatment by structural stormwater runoff best management practices (BMPs) (Report). U.S. Geological Survey. Scientific Investigations Report 2014–5037.
  14. ^ "National Menu of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Stormwater". National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. EPA. 2016.

External links

Best practice

A best practice is a method or technique that has been generally accepted as superior to any alternatives because it produces results that are superior to those achieved by other means or because it has become a standard way of doing things, e.g., a standard way of complying with legal or ethical requirements.

Best practices are used to maintain quality as an alternative to mandatory legislated standards and can be based on self-assessment or benchmarking. Best practice is a feature of accredited management standards such as ISO 9000 and ISO 14001.Some consulting firms specialize in the area of best practice and offer pre-made templates to standardize business process documentation. Sometimes a best practice is not applicable or is inappropriate for a particular organization's needs. A key strategic talent required when applying best practice to organizations is the ability to balance the unique qualities of an organization with the practices that it has in common with others.

Good operating practice is a strategic management term. More specific uses of the term include good agricultural practices, good manufacturing practice, good laboratory practice, good clinical practice and good distribution practice.

Detention basin

A detention basin or retarding basin is an excavated area installed on, or adjacent to, tributaries of rivers, streams, lakes or bays to protect against flooding and, in some cases, downstream erosion by storing water for a limited period of time. These basins are also called "dry ponds", "holding ponds" or "dry detention basins" if no permanent pool of water exists. Detention ponds that are designed to permanently retain some volume of water at all times are called retention basins. In its basic form, a detention basin is used to manage water quantity while having a limited effectiveness in protecting water quality, unless it includes a permanent pool feature.

Drainage law

Drainage law is a specific area of water law related to drainage of surface water on real property. It is particularly important in areas where freshwater is scarce, flooding is common, or water is in high demand for agricultural or commercial purposes.

Industrial wastewater treatment

Industrial wastewater treatment describes the processes used for treating wastewater that is produced by industries as an undesirable by-product. After treatment, the treated industrial wastewater (or effluent) may be reused or released to a sanitary sewer or to a surface water in the environment.

Most industries produce some wastewater. Recent trends have been to minimize such production or to recycle treated wastewater within the production process.

Percolation trench

A percolation trench, also called an infiltration trench, is a type of best management practice (BMP) that is used to manage stormwater runoff, prevent flooding and downstream erosion, and improve water quality in an adjacent river, stream, lake or bay. It is a shallow excavated trench filled with gravel or crushed stone that is designed to infiltrate stormwater though permeable soils into the groundwater aquifer.A percolation trench is similar to a dry well, which is typically an excavated hole filled with gravel. Another similar drainage structure is a French drain, which directs water away from a building foundation, but is usually not designed to protect water quality.

Stormwater detention vault

A stormwater detention vault is an underground structure designed to manage excess stormwater runoff on a developed site, often in an urban setting. This type of best management practice may be selected when there is insufficient space on the site to infiltrate the runoff or build a surface facility such as a detention basin or retention basin.Detention vaults manage stormwater quantity flowing to nearby surface waters. They help prevent flooding and can reduce erosion in rivers and streams. They do not provide treatment to improve water quality, though some are attached to a media filter bank to remove pollutants.

Street sweeper

A street sweeper or street cleaner may refer to a person's occupation, or a machine that cleans streets. A street sweeper cleans the streets, usually in an urban area.

Street sweepers have been employed in cities since sanitation and waste removal became a priority. A street-sweeping person would use a broom and shovel to clean off litter, animal waste and filth that accumulated on streets. Later, water hoses were used to wash the streets.

Machines were created in the 19th century to do the job more efficiently. Today, modern street sweepers are mounted on truck bodies and can vacuum debris that accumulates in streets.

Agreements and conferences

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