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Municipal Employee Training and Education

Minimum Measure: Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations

Subcategory: Education

Description

Municipal employee training programs should be designed to teach staff about potential sources of stormwater contamination and ways to minimize the water quality impact of municipal activities, such as park and open space maintenance, fleet and building maintenance, construction and land disturbances, and storm drain system maintenance. Training programs should include a general stormwater awareness message, pollution prevention/good housekeeping measures, Spill Response and Prevention, and information about the operation and maintenance of structural best management practices (BMPs). Training programs also should include information on stormwater pollution prevention plans (SWPPPs) for municipal facilities and BMPs recommended for use in the field to prevent contaminated discharges. Finally, municipal field staff should be trained to recognize, track, and report illicit discharges.

Applicability

Municipal employees who are directly involved in potentially polluting activities should receive both general stormwater and targeted BMP training tailored to their activities. This will increase the likelihood that receiving waters and the storm drain system will be protected from inadvertent discharges and spills. It is important to train all municipal staff, however, regardless of field responsibilities, about general stormwater awareness and the detection of illicit discharges. Very often, municipal staff are residents as well, and improving the awareness of municipal employees may reduce residential impacts and increase reporting of illicit discharges, dumping, and spills. Also, because municipalities expect residents and business owners to practice pollution prevention and good housekeeping, municipal employees should set an example for the rest of the community to follow.

Siting and Design Considerations

Municipal employees can be educated about stormwater issues in a number of ways: in-house training programs, on-the-job reinforcement, general awareness and educational materials, and workshops or conferences.

Most municipalities have established training programs for field maintenance staff to address safety, materials handling, waste disposal, or other issues. Typically, in-house training formats include formal, classroom style programs that are usually held on an annual basis, and more frequent, informal "tailgate" meetings. Tailgate meetings are usually held weekly to update staff on current issues and tasks, but they often incorporate short training sessions as well. More comprehensive training is usually conducted when new employees are hired or existing employees are looking to be promoted. Basic stormwater information and details about pollution prevention and BMPs can be incorporated into these existing formats. Whenever possible, additional in-field training should be provided to demonstrate proper implementation of operation and maintenance of BMPs and housekeeping measures at municipal facilities. Videos are also useful tools that may be used during training. For example, the North Central Texas Council of Governments developed a video entitled Preventing Stormwater Pollution: What We Can Do" Exit EPA Site along with an accompanying Stormwater Pollution Prevention Training Module Series, as tools to assist local governments and state agencies in training their employees on stormwater pollution (North Central Texas Council of Governments, no date). In addition, the City of Memphis has developed training for private industrial facility operators [Powerpoint] Exit EPA Site that can be modified to apply to municipal facility maintenance staff and managers (City of Memphis, 2004).

After training, it is helpful for managers to periodically check employees' work practices to ensure BMPs are implemented properly. Periodic unscheduled inspections of facilities and maintenance activities will allow managers to gauge what has been learned. Posting reminders, such as markers above drains prohibiting discharges of vehicle fluids and wastes, or signs above faucets reminding employees not to use water to clean up spills will remind employees of proper procedures. Stickers that list important information and contact numbers for reporting illicit discharges, dumping, or spills can be adhered to all municipal vehicles. Stenciling or marking all storm drains at municipal facilities will prompt employees to be conscious of discharges. Facility SWPPPs and BMP guidance documents should be available to all employees as a reference to use after training.

All municipal staff can benefit from general stormwater information. Some municipalities provide general stormwater awareness information in new employee training. Paycheck inserts or email notices with information about household practices to reduce stormwater impacts or ways to recognize an illicit discharge can increase overall awareness. Stormwater posters or displays in common areas of municipal buildings educate both employees and members of the community. The Alameda Countywide Clean Water Program has developed a number of pollution prevention brochures Exit EPA Site that could be modified for municipal use (Alameda Countywide Clean Water Program, 2005), and EPA has developed posters, fact sheets, guidebooks and other tools that could be used as well (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2005a). The City of Los Angeles has developed an online handbook Exit EPA Site to educate city staff about stormwater issues (City of Los Angeles Stormwater Program, no date). Many additional training resources can be found at the North Central Texas Council of Governments Pollution Prevention Training Resources Compilation Exit EPA Site website (North Central Texas Council of Governments, 2003).

Workshops and conferences about pollution prevention and stormwater management BMPs are offered by numerous federal and state agencies and professional and nonprofit organizations. For example, EPA sponsors workshops and conferences on a variety of stormwater topics, and many states provide stormwater trainings as well (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2005b). These courses are useful if the municipality owns and manages a landfill, or other facility, that requires coverage under an industrial stormwater permit. Employees can learn how to comply with the latest stormwater management regulations, how to develop required stormwater pollution prevention plans, which BMPs to use at a particular facility or site, and methods for collecting and handling samples. By attending these outside events, municipal staff can keep up-to-date on current BMPs and stormwater management approaches while networking with other municipal employees and representatives from industry and regulatory agencies.

Limitations

Comprehensive stormwater training can be hampered by limited staff time, funding constraints, or lack of commitment from management. To combat these problems, stormwater training can be incorporated into existing training programs. Also, training materials and BMP guidance documents are available free of charge on the Internet. For example, Caltrans provides training materials for BMPs Exit EPA Site to be used during highway construction (California Department of Transportation, 2003).

Cost Considerations

Costs for implementing an in-house employee training program are related to labor and associated overhead costs. Trainers can reduce direct costs by using free educational materials or training tools that are already developed.

General education materials can also be reproduced inexpensively by using existing resources and tools.

Workshops or conferences presented by outside organizations, agencies, or groups can vary in cost. Often these workshops are free or provided for a nominal fee. Many private companies and groups also provide training. For example, the Environmental Resource Center offers a one-day seminar on how to manage industrial stormwater discharges Exit EPA Site for $499 per person (Environmental Resource Center, no date).

References

Alameda Countywide Clean Water Program. 2005. Library of Resources. [http://cleanwaterprogram.org/resources.html Exit EPA Site]. Last updated May 11, 2005. Accessed June 30, 2005.

California Department of Transportation. 2003. Stormwater Training. [http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/construc/stormwater/swppp_training.html Exit EPA Site]. Accessed June 30, 2005.

City of Los Angeles Stormwater Program. No date. We Have a Mission: Preventing Stormwater Pollution. [http://san.lacity.org/wpd/Siteorg/download/pdfs/bmps/empl_hndbk.pdf]. Accessed October 27, 2008.

City of Memphis. 2004. Stormwater Pollution Prevention Training For Industrial Facilities in the City of Memphis. [www.memphistn.gov/portals/0/images/Storm.ppt Exit EPA Site]. Accessed June 30, 2005.

North Central Texas Council of Governments. 2003. Pollution Prevention Training Resources Compilation. [http://www.dfwstormwater.com/P2/P2_Training_Resources.html Exit EPA Site]. Last updated September 2003. Accessed June 30, 2005.

North Central Texas Council of Governments. No date. Stormwater Pollution Prevention: What We Can Do, Municipal Employees Training Resources. [http://www.nctcog.org/envir/SEEclean/stormwater/pubs/videos.asp Exit EPA Site]. Accessed June 30, 2005.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2005a. Stormwater Month Outreach Materials and Reference Documents. [http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/stormwatermonth.cfm Exit EPA Site]. Last updated June 10, 2005. Accessed June 30, 2005.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2005b. NPDES Training Courses and Workshops. [http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/outreach.cfm?program_id=0&otype=1]. Last updated March 25, 2005. Accessed June 30, 2005.

 

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