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Best management practices

Best management practices are intended to reduce the amount of pollutants contaminating surface water bodies. For links to more information and documents see below.


Agricultural stormwater pollution can be effectively managed considering the following management strategies:

  • Revegetation: Vegetating riparian areas along waterways can be helpful. Lack of vegetation on streambanks can lead to erosion.
  • Avoid overgrazing: Overgrazed pastures can also contribute excessive amounts of sediment to local water bodies. To over come this, rotate animal grazing to prevent soil erosion in fields.
  • Limit use of fertilizer and pesticides: Excess fertilizers and pesticides can poison aquatic animals and lead to destructive algae blooms. Apply fertilizers and pesticides according to the label instructions, and save money and minimize pollution.
  • Control waste: Livestock in streams can contaminate waterways with bacteria, making them unsafe for human contact. Keep the livestock away from streambanks and provide them a water source away from water bodies. Store and apply manure away from water bodies and in accordance with a nutrient management plan.

Automotive Facilities

Consider the following solutions for pollution from automotive facilities:

  • Cover stations: Uncovered fueling stations allow spills to be washed into storm drains. Cars waiting to be repaired can leak fuel, oil and other harmful fluids that can be picked up by stormwater. Provide covered fueling stations, and design or retrofit facilities for spill containment.
  • Clean spills: Cleanup spills immediately and properly dispose of cleanup materials.
  • Maintain fleet vehicles: Properly maintain fleet vehicles to prevent oil, gas and other discharges from being washed into local waterbodies.
  • Use oil and water separators: Install and maintain oil/water separators.

Commercial Facilities

Dirt, oil and debris that collect in parking lots and paved areas can be washed into the storm sewer system and eventually enter local waterbodies. Consider the following solutions for pollution from commercial facilities:

  • Sweep litter: Sweep up litter and debris from sidewalks, driveways and parking lots.
  • Cover waste containers: Cover grease storage and dumpsters and keep them clean to avoid leaks.
  • Report spills: Report any chemical spill to the local hazardous waste cleanup team. They will know the best way to keep spills from harming the environment.


Best management practices for construction activities include erosion and sediment controls, and stormwater management controls.

Erosion and sediment controls, which include both stabilization and structural control measures, prevent or reduce erosion, and redirect stormwater flow during construction activities.

Examples of construction stabilization include:

  • Temporary seeding: Vegetation such as grass grows quickly to hold the soil in place preventing erosion due to wind current or stormwater.
  • Permanent seeding: Vegetation is used during construction to prevent soil erosion and remains as part of the final landscaping.
  • Mulching: Material such as hay, grass, wood chips, gravel or straw is placed on top of the soil to prevent erosion.

Structural control measures prevent pollutants from leaving the construction site, limit the amount of water flow or change the direction it travels. Examples include:

  • Earth dikes: Earth dikes use soil to divert uncontaminated water from contaminated areas, or they allow contaminated flow to be deposited in sediment trapping devices.
  • Silt fences: A trapping device captures sediment on one side of the fence while allowing water to flow through.
  • Sediment traps: Sediment settles out in a specified area such as an empty pond.
  • Sediment basins: Sediment basins allow sediment to settle out in a specified area but require a controlled release of the water flow.

Stormwater management controls are used after construction is completed to prevent pollution due to stormwater runoff. Examples of stormwater management controls include:

  • Retention Ponds: Stormwater runoff is retained in a pond and may be removed through evaporation, infiltration or emergency bypass.
  • Detention Ponds: Water is held while sediments settle and then is slowly released.
  • Infiltration: Measures can include infiltration trenches, basins and dry wells that allow water to percolate from the surface into the soil below.
  • Vegetated Swells and Natural Depressions: Vegetation, usually grass, lines the swell and removes sediments from runoff, allowing it to better infiltrate into subsurface soil.


Improperly managed logging operations can result and erosion and sedimentation. The following are best management practices:

  • Plant preharvest: Conduct preharvest planning to prevent erosion and lower the overall project costs.
  • Minimize disturbance: Use logging methods and equipment that minimize soil disturbance. Plan and design skid trails, yard areas and truck access roads to minimize stream crossings and avoid disturbance of the forest floor. Construct stream crossings so that they minimize erosion and physical changes to streams.
  • Revegetation: It is always best to expedite revegetation of cleared areas.


Following are solutions to pollution at residences:

  • Lawn care: Excess fertilizers and pesticides applied to lawns and gardens wash off and pollute streams. In addition, yard clippings and leaves can wash into storm drains and contribute nutrients and organic matter to streams. Do not over water your lawn.
  • Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly. Use organic mulch or safer pest control methods whenever possible.
  • Compost or mulch yard waste. Cover piles of dirt or mulch being used in landscaping projects.
  • Septic systems: Leaking and poorly maintained septic systems release nutrients and pathogens (bacteria and viruses) that can be picked up by stormwater and discharged into nearby waterbodies. Pathogens can cause public health problems and environmental concerns. Inspect your system every 3 years and pump your tank as necessary. Do NOT dispose of household hazardous waste in sinks or toilets.
  • Automotive: Washing your car and degreasing auto parts at home can send detergents and other contaminants through the storm sewer system. Dumping automotive fluids into storm drains has the same result as dumping the materials directly into a waterbody.
  • Use a commercial carwash that treats or recycles its wastewater or wash your car on your yard so that the water infiltrates the ground. Repair leaks and dispose of used auto fluids and batteries at designated drop-off or recycling locations.
  • Pet waste: Pet waste can be a major source of bacteria and excess nutrients in local waters. When walking your pet, remember to pick up the waste and dispose of it properly. Flushing pet waste is the best disposal method.


Stormwater Management, Russell A. Persyn, Molly Griffin and Amy T. Williams