Oct. 10, 2018

A recent news item from San Diego illustrates a couple of things we’ve discussed often in Stormwater magazine. Three employees of a painting company were fined and received other punishments for allowing lead-based paint to flow into a storm drain.

As this article reports, the company had been hired to remove paint from curbs. They were supposed to do it by sandblasting—and then presumably vacuum up the resulting sand and paint chips. Instead, they hooked hoses to a city fire hydrant and power-washed the curbs, washing the paint into a storm drain. A resident reported them to the city.

Their punishment? One person, the company’s CEO, was fined $10,000 and ordered to complete 80 hours of community service. Two other employees were fined $1,000 each. All three must take a class on hazardous materials disposal. The article also mentions that the punishment includes three years’ probation, although it’s not clear whether that applies only to the CEO or to all three.

A couple of things to note here—one is that the curbs that held the lead-based paint were probably painted by the city at some point; this wasn’t material that the contractor provided for the job. But the company, according to its website, specializes in things like painting stripes on asphalt parking lots and repairing and seal-coating asphalt surfaces, and it has been in business for more than 20 years, so it should be familiar with local regulations.

An article coming up in the November/December issue of Stormwater focuses on IDDE programs—the illicit discharge detection and elimination programs that many NPDES permittees must have in place. It looks at common problems cities encounter—including businesses like food trucks disposing of grease and carpet cleaning companies disposing of used washwater in the storm drains—and strategies their various stormwater programs have devised to deal with them.

How stringent—and how strictly enforced—are the illicit discharge regulations in your area? What would you say are the biggest problems you face?

About the Author

Janice Kaspersen

Janice Kaspersen is the former editor of Erosion Control and Stormwater magazines. 

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