Know what to do when spill occurs

Posted Thursday, Sep. 04, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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The city often receives calls from residents when some sort of spill has occurred, anything from paint or dyes to oil or gasoline. Usually, the initial spill has been made worse by a resident, or the resident’s contractor, attempting to wash the material down the street to make it go away.

Unfortunately washing it down the street doesn’t make the spill go away. It has entered the city’s storm drain system and will eventually get into a creek or pond and then eventually to Joe Pool Lake. Along the way these pollutants can cause aesthetic issues, and often lead to the death of aquatic plants and animals.

When a spill occurs, regardless of what it is, there are a few common ways to deal with it and lessen the impact on the environment and your pocket book. As soon as the spill occurs, try to contain it. If you have cat litter, sand or any other absorbent material in the house, use this to soak up as much as possible. Digging a hole in your yard, or throwing a few towels on the spill will be much cheaper than the city getting involved and having to call in a cleanup firm. It is possible the contaminated materials will need special disposal, but that will be the cheapest option by far.

If the spill is a dry material, such as concrete mix, sweep the material up and dispose of it. Do not try to wash it down the gutter. This leads to a mess for your neighbors to deal with and increases the size of the spill.

The city’s Stormwater Quality Protection Ordinance prohibits the discharge of anything into the storm drain system that is not unpolluted water. Additionally, the permit the city has with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TECQ) requires the city to conduct enforcement on violations of this ordinance.

If you see one of your contractors doing this, it is better for you to stop them and let them know what they are doing than for the city to have to pay you visit after they have left.

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