A successful outreach campaign must tailor its message to a targeted
audience. The target audience may be industry or business groups whose activities influence the health of watersheds. Many commercial activities contribute to stormwater
pollution (such as vehicle washing, landscape fertilization, and improper
hazardous waste disposal). Therefore, it is important to address commercial
activities specifically in an outreach strategy and
recognize that in most cases incentives must be provided to encourage
businesses to change their behavior.
There are numerous ways to provide education and outreach for commercial
activities. Materials designed for businesses include posters, magnets,
calendars, flyers, brochures, and best management practices (BMPs) fact sheets
For example, if the target audience includes restaurants and auto
maintenance industries, you might consider developing and distributing
educational brochures and posters that outline BMPs that
reduce urban runoff volume and pollutant concentration that result from their
operations. Several stormwater programs also offer rewards to businesses that
participate in a "stormwater business" program and meet specific
criteria. Such commercial stormwater pollution prevention programs have been
very successful across the nation.
Depending on time, financial, and resource constraints, a municipality might
wish to target several or all types of commercial activities. Some common
practices apply to most industries and can be used in a variety of
outreach materials. At all businesses, workers should "know their
site," notice where their property's runoff goes, and know where their
drain inlets go. Good housekeeping practices are required to keep pollutants
out of storm drains. They are especially important if the property drains to the
sanitary sewer or combined sewer. The business should avoid
toxic materials as much as possible, store liquids where they cannot be knocked over, and
consider the best place to conduct specific activities. For example, it might
be better to clean a fleet of company vehicles at a commercial car wash rather
than washing vehicles on the company's property because dirt, grease, and
detergents can be treated effectively at car washes (See Residential Car Washing fact sheet). To help keep rain from
washing away pollutants, companies should be advised to keep dumpsters and
other containers securely closed; store containers under cover; and cover
stockpiled materials such as gravel, wood chips, and building materials (for
example, by using plastic sheeting). Businesses should be asked to clean up their
sites, but not by washing grit and grime into the storm drainage system.
Instead they should pick up litter, sweep areas and dispose of sweepings in the
garbage (unless they are hazardous and require special disposal). Businesses should use
absorbent materials to absorb oils. The City of Fortworth, Texas has developed a pollution prevention fact sheet for restaurants . The City of Golden, Colorado also developed fact sheets for many types of businesses .
Some commonly recommended BMPs for commercial activities include:
As an example, if the targeted areas are parking lots and parking garages,
one might develop a slogan such as "Clean Lots and Clean Waters."
Under this slogan, a colorful booklet could be produced. This booklet might
describe proper parking lot cleaning procedures, such as the following:
- Promptly cleaning up vehicle leaks
- Using a rag or absorbent material to properly dispose
of automotive fluids
- Regularly sweeping the parking lot and picking up
- Avoiding washing down the parking lot unless a mop for
spot cleaning is used
- Disposing of the mop water to a sanitary sewer
- Rinsing the parking lot with water only (no soap) after
first sweeping it up and cleaning up oil spots with an absorbent, or collecting
the soapy rinse water and pumping it to the sanitary sewer
After the booklet has been developed, it can be distributed to local garages
and parking lot authorities. The effectiveness of the outreach strategy should
be evaluated using
Attitude Surveys or
Volunteer Monitoring at the outlets of or downstream from targeted areas.
Automotive Service Centers and Garages. The solvents, oils, and
paints used in automotive garages and service centers can become major storm
water pollutants if handled improperly. Consequently, garages are typically
targeted for stormwater education campaigns. Outreach materials specifically
tailored for the automotive repair industry can be created. The materials can
describe how to develop the outreach message and select appropriate materials
and provide information regarding distribution of a combination of materials
such as posters, which can be hung in the garage, and flyers or brochures,
which can be distributed to employees and kept in the shop's office or lobby.
Titles should be eye-catching and meaningful to the audience, such as
"Keep Your Shop in Tune . . . and Protect the Bay!" or "Is Water
Quality Going Down the Drain in Your Garage?"
The following are recommended topics with practices to control waste from
auto shop activities:
- Changing automotive fluids
(brake fluid, transmission fluid, gear oil, radiator fluids, and air
conditioner Freon or refrigerant)
- Working on engines,
transmissions, and miscellaneous repairs
- Preventing leaks and spills
- Cleaning up spills
- Identifying and controlling
wastewater and discharges
- Fueling vehicles
- Removing and storing
- Cleaning parts
- Metal grinding and finishing
- Storing and disposing of
- Selecting and controlling
- Outdoor parking and auto
- Vehicle washing, engine
cleaning, and automotive steam cleaning
- Training and educating
employees and customers
- Pretreating water discharged
to the sanitary sewer
- Installing a roof over
fueling areas or outdoor working areas (to keep stormwater off these
- Regrading or repaving outdoor
- Recycling spent fluids
Home mechanics. In addition
to targeting automotive service facilities, many stormwater programs also
provide outreach materials for automotive "do-it-yourselfers."
Pamphlets, brochures, and flyers can be used to outline how to properly dispose
of used motor oil and other automotive fluids. Contact information for local
commercial recyclers of automotive fluids should be included. To target home
mechanics specifically, materials can be placed in automotive supply outlets or
mailed to members of a mechanics club or subscribers to home mechanic
Municipalities should provide incentives for businesses to participate in
pollution prevention activities. Participants
can be rewarded with technical assistance, promotional items, and public
recognition. In Austin, Texas, "Clean Water Partners" receive
banners, T-shirts, and are mentioned in newspapers and newsletters. King County,
Washington's "EnviroStars" are promoted through the Green Business
Directory, a directory of environmentally friendly businesses distributed to
A municipality can choose to establish a better business program, which provides
assistance, incentives, and recognition for businesses that use practices to
effectively reduce stormwater pollution. Some programs target all businesses
in the community, whereas others focus on a specific industry, such as
automotive shops, power washers, and carpet cleaners. Hawaii's Green Business Program
recognizes businesses that use environmentally-friendly operations. Palo Alto's Clean Bay
Business Program offers recognition and promotional advantages to vehicle
service facilities that implement certain BMPs (NRDC, 1999).
In Portland, Oregon, the metropolitan Portland public agencies, known as the
Pollution Prevention Outreach (P2O) Team created the Eco-Logical Business Program to advise automotive shops on ways to manage wastes and reduce
environmental impacts. To date, 25 automotive service operations and 8 fleet services have
volunteered for this new program and subsequently met certification criteria. These criteria recognize shops that use management practices designed to limit waste
creation and prevent releases to the environment through spills or improper
disposal. In most cases, these practices go beyond the minimum to comply with
environmental regulations. Some automotive shop pollution prevention and environmental
protection practices include recycling or reusing automotive fluids and
solvents, using less-toxic cleaners and degreasers, and using secondary
containment structures to prevent spills. The program provides an incentive for
conscientious businesses to go beyond basic compliance expectations and take
extra steps to protect the environment. This sets a new standard for the
industry and leads to improved environmental protection. The public is notified of these
Program coordinators hope that recognition as an environmentally friendly
business will be a useful marketing tool for the shops, while attracting other
businesses to join the program as well.
One of the benefits of outreach programs for businesses, as with all
outreach programs, is an increase in public awareness about water quality
issues. Additionally, because many business
practices use materials and chemicals that are harmful to the environment, it
is important for municipalities to inform owners, operators, and employees
about practices that should be avoided to maintain and improve water
quality. Also, businesses that are more
aware of environmental issues might be willing to partner with municipalities
and sponsor programs and activities that reach a wider audience in the community. The
businesses receive advertising in return for donations of materials, personnel,
or use of their facilities.
Commercial outreach programs do have some limitations. There are many
different types of commercial activities, and outreach programs might not be
applicable to some of them. Before developing and implementing an outreach
program, municipalities should prioritize business types that they think might
impair water quality or that might be most receptive to outreach.
Because the measures that the municipality
proposes for businesses are voluntary, owners, operators, and employees must be
convinced that changing their behavior is valuable and worth their
Municipalities can gauge the effectiveness of their outreach program for
commercial activities through surveys of employees.
The survey can determine if outreach materials and programs have
changed business policies or employee behavior.
Also, if a municipality has an incentive program that encourages
businesses to register to be listed as a better business, the registration
process can be used to gather information about which pollution prevention
practices are being used at each business.
Additionally, the number of registrants can be used to gauge the
effectiveness of the advertising campaign for the program.
The costs associated with developing an outreach campaign for commercial
activities depend on the types and quantities of materials produced, the
resources needed (for distribution, contacting businesses in person, etc.), and
the general scope of the campaign. Photocopying or printing prices can vary
widely, depending on the complexity of the brochure, pamphlet, or poster.
Municipalities should consider financial
constraints when developing outreach materials.
Implementing a "Better Business" program will require dedicated
labor, database management, and educational information.
City of Fort Worth, Texas. 2003. Menu for a cleaner (and healthier) environment: A
guide for the the food service industry. [http://www.fortworthgov.org/DEM/stormfood.htm
City of Golden, Colorado. 2003. Pollution Prevention. [http://ci.golden.co.us/Page.asp?NavID=238 ].
City of Portland. 2004. Eco-Logical Business Program. [www.ecobiz.org/ ].
NRDC. 1999. Stormwater Strategies: Community Responses to Runoff
Pollution. National Resources Defense Council. Washington, DC.
Santa Clara Valley NPS Control Program. 1991. Keep Your Shop in
Tune . . . and Protect the Bay! Poster. Santa Clara Valley Nonpoint Source Pollution
Control Program, San Jose, CA.
Santa Clara Valley NPS Control Program. No date. Best Management
Practices for Automotive-Related Industries. Santa Clara Valley Nonpoint
Source Pollution Control Program, San Jose, CA.
Santa Clara Valley NPS Control Program. 1992. Best Management Practices
for Industrial Stormwater Pollution Control. Santa Clara Valley Nonpoint
Source Pollution Control Program, San Jose, CA.