Protect At Work

Tundra Swans | Spring Migration, Pool 8 Robert J. Hurt Landscape Photography

Businesses of all sizes have the responsibility to reduce stormwater runoff. Why? In some cases it’s the law. In all cases it’s clean rivers and groundwater, a better place to live and do business, brand and marketing opportunities, less expense, and personal satisfaction.

Manage For Clean Water

Assess and plan for better water management. Step back to see where water flows on your business property and how you can reduce the runoff and pollution from your site. Evaluate business practices. Then implement.

  • Reduce amount of hard surface on the property
  • Reshape landscape to absorb runoff
  • Add native plants
  • Limit deicing salt and sand
  • Sweep paved surfaces often to collect salt, dirt and litter
  • Wash vehicles where water drains to a treatment facility
  • Cover loading docks, fueling areas and other storage facilities
  • Use materials that are not petroleum based


  • Less runoff and pollution
  • Lower stormwater utility fee and long-term expenses
  • Attractive landscape and parking areas
  • Positive community attention

Parking Lots

Change parking lots to reduce runoff. Direct water to bioretention basins, rain gardens and native plantings. Add trees and islands of native plants that collect water in and around the lot. Remove excessive asphalt to minimize the amount of runoff. Where pavement is needed, replace with a porous product if possible. On tight urban sites consider underground french drains, holding areas and curb cuts. You’ll see better organized traffic, less heat generation, community attention and most likely, lower costs.


Shape landscape, add infiltration practices to absorb water. Reshape the land or add underground infiltration methods to decrease runoff.

Reduce turf. Add native plants. Prioritize clean water and native plants in business property design and you’ll benefit in many ways. Landscapes that mimic natural places need less mowing, watering and weeding, so cost less to maintain. They create ecosystems that withstand changes in weather, attract people, add beauty, filter water into the ground, and reduce stormwater utility fees.

Dispose of Waste Properly

Dispose of waste properly. If you don’t want something in the river, don’t let it touch parking lots, soil or any other place where water can carry it to a street drain or stream. This includes: cleaning products, wash water, food oils and grease, automotive oils and waste fluids, paint, petroleum-based solvents, concrete wash water and sidewalk salt. When disposing of products that are part of doing business, follow regulations.

Snow Removal

Make a plan. Before winter arrives, develop a cold weather maintenance plan, and train your crew accordingly. Manage your supplies properly. Store snow in a location where it’s not going to melt and flow through salt or sand piles or any natural areas. Any sand or salt piles or bags (or even liquids) should be protected from rain or snow. Keep these materials indoors. Choose a safe deicer. Preferably not salt, and use just enough to get the job done. Finally, know the weather conditions. Pavement temperature, not air temperature, determines which deicing material to use and how much to apply.

Be a Leader

Act first. Reduce water pollution from your business with site assessment, water planning, legal compliance, and attention to detail when acting on plans and using best practices. Inspire and train employees.

Share what you know and invite community action. Once you’ve taken action, invite others to learn from your practices. Speak at local gatherings, invite tours, add signs to show what you did and why. Speak your commitments. Lead from your values and be noticed.