Business Pollution Prevention

Why is pollution prevention important? Rain falls on roofs and streets and then flows into storm drains. Whatever goes down the drain flows to our streams and lakes. Rainwater picks up what it touches along the way, such as spills from recycled cooking oil, chemicals from cleaning products, and litter. The rainwater that goes down storm drains flows into our streams and lakes. There is no filter or treatment to clean the water. This polluted water can be highly toxic to our fish and wildlife. The City of Snohomish is required to run a Business Pollution Prevention program to protect water quality. The purpose of this program is to prevent pollution before it happens.

Business Source Control Basics

What is Source Control?

Source Control is a new inspection program for businesses and publicly owned sites. City inspectors will work with business owners to identify potential pollution sources and stop them from mixing with rainwater and entering a storm drain (the grates you see in the street or parking lot into which water flows). Depending on your site location within Snohomish, runoff from your property flows into the City’s stormwater drainage system or travels directly to a nearby lake, stream, or wetland.

Where did Source Control come from?

This program is a requirement of the Western Washington Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit issued by the Department of Ecology.

How do I know if my business is on the list?

Common business types with the potential to pollute include food service establishments, food manufacturing, and grocery stores, salons, auto care, boat care, dry cleaners and laundromats, animal sales and care, construction trades, landscaping and nurseries, childcare centers and schools, mobile businesses to name a few.

If your business falls under one of the following business/activities, it will be inspected:

  • Ambulatory Health Care Services and Hospitals
  • Automotive Dealers and Gasoline Service Stations
  • Beverage, Food, and Tobacco Manufacturing
  • Building Materials, Hardware, Garden Supplies Dealers
  • Chemical Manufacturing
  • Construction of Buildings
  • Educational Services
  • Electrical Equipment, Appliance, and Component
  • Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing
  • Food and Beverage Stores
  • Food Services and Drinking Places
  • Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction
  • Leather and Allied Product Manufacturing
  • Machinery, Computer, and Electronic Product Manufacturing
  • Manufacturing
  • Museums, Historical Sites, and Similar Institutions
  • Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing
  • Paper Manufacturing
  • Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing
  • Plastics and Rubber Product Manufacturing
  • Primary Metal Manufacturing
  • Printing and Related Support Activities
  • Rail Transportation
  • Rental and Leasing Services
  • Repair and Maintenance
  • Specialty Trade Contractors
  • Support Activities for Animal Production
  • Support Activities for Transportation
  • Transit and Ground Passenger Transportation
  • Transportation Equipment Manufacturing
  • Truck Transportation and Warehousing
  • Wholesale Trade – Durable Goods
  • Wholesale Trade – Nondurable Goods
  • Wood Product Manufacturing

When will the inspections happen?

The City is required to inspect 20% of the identified businesses annually. Inspections of sites will begin in 2023 and you will receive a postcard in the mail when your business is up for inspection.

What will the inspections involve?

The Business Pollution Prevention program will consist of an initial inspection to access business practices that could pollute the storm system. An action plan will be provided to the business following the initial inspection. Snohomish relies on voluntary compliance from businesses and inspectors will partner with businesses to come up with solutions to address any concerns uncovered during an inspection.

What can I do to prepare for my inspections?

In general, making sure the dumpster area is clean and functional, and ensuring recycling containers for cooking oil are clean and closed. The rest will be specific to the business and a conversation for when the inspection takes place.

Download this inspection checklist to prepare for your inspection.

What best management practices can I implement at my business?

The Department of Ecology has a Stormwater Management Manual containing best management practices (BMPs) your business can adopt. Implementing operational and structural changes can prevent pollution from occurring.

What are good housekeeping practices?

  • Sweep and clean outside areas regularly
  • Keep the dumpster area tidy
  • Clean up spills and dispose of waste property
  • Keep chemicals and liquids inside or undercover
  • Clean up solid waste on the ground
  • Only use cold water and no soap to pressure wash exterior surfaces and add storm drain protection while pressure washing
  • Use a tarp to protect piles—soil, metal, building materials, etc.—from getting washed away or rained on
  • Do not hose down messes or pollutants near storm drains or streams

Will you issue fines?

If three requests for voluntary compliance are ignored, Water Quality staff will initiate the civil violations process in accordance with Chapter 1.14 SMC.

Will you close my business if I cannot comply?

No, Water Quality staff will work with your business to develop a solution for the identified source(s) of pollution on an agreed-upon timeframe. However, if there is pollution actively entering the storm system or bodies of water, action must be taken immediately to prevent further pollution from occurring and cleanup will need to take place in the timeframe designated by the City inspector.

Will this cost my business money?

The inspection and the provided action plan do not cost money. Your Inspector will work with you to determine what changes need to be made and how to best implement them. Simple changes like implementing good housekeeping practices are free and prevent costly cleanup. If inspection findings reveal pollution that needs to be cleaned up, the business is liable for cleanup and any costs incurred. Costs could incur if supplies or equipment changes are needed to prevent pollution at your business.  

Are there grants to help cover costs?

The Pollution Prevention Partnership is comprised of representatives from cities, counties, and health districts. Funding assistance is provided by the Washington Department of Ecology and allows the program to provide free hands-on-assistance to Small Quantity Generators (typically small businesses and organizations) who wish to improve their practices by reducing impacts to human health and the environment.

This is accomplished through technical assistance visits that are designed to reduce or eliminate hazardous waste and pollutants at the source. A local pollution prevention specialist will meet with your organization to evaluate current activities and practices. They will discuss concerns, observations, solutions, and work directly to help solve common challenges around dangerous wastes, stormwater, solid waste, and spill prevention. This collaborative process limits liability, reduces risk, and improves work environments.

If you would like to learn more about this program, contact your local specialist at 360-913-4479.

Stickered Dumpster

Dumpster Lid Program

Properties will be asked to participate in the Dumpster Lid Program (DLP) during inspections and contacted through mail and/or email. City of Snohomish Water Quality staff will be putting stickers on dumpsters to remind users to put the lids down after each use. Closing lids on dumpsters reduces smells, pests, and keeps rain about.

For more information, review the sample letter.

Questions about these programs?

Contact: Dan Hotovitsky


Call: 360-913-4479