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Effective Tips on Taking Your Stormwater Testing Samples

1. Introduction to stormwater testing

Stormwater is water from rain or melting snow that does not quickly soak into the ground. This stormwater runs off rooftops, paved streets, highways, and parking lots. As it flows over these surfaces it collects pollutants like oil, fertilizers, pesticides, soil, trash, and animal manure. Most stormwater does not get treated, even when it goes into a street drain. Instead it flows downstream entering directly into lakes, streams, rivers and marine waters. Stormwater runoff is a leading threat to our urban waters, streambeds, banks, and marine habitats.

Testing and monitoring stormwater is important because it is a leading cause of pollution, erosion, flooding and many other environmental and health issues; especially when it is not properly understood and monitored. Stormwater testing and monitoring provide a method by which we can continually develop effective methods for improving water quality. In addition, by collecting information about rainfall, runoff, inflow, outflow, and the infiltration characteristics of green infrastructure practices, we will also develop mitigation efforts that will benefit waters that receive this runoff like lakes, reservoirs, major rivers, oceans and groundwater sources (including wells).

2. Overview About Stormwater Sampling

When learning stormwater sampling procedures it is vitally important to remember that your goal is to get a good stormwater result. This is because the results of your sampling can mean the difference between being in compliance, or receiving fines and violations. The most important thing to remember is to always do your best to take a good sample in absolute compliance with your stormwater permit. It is much easier to work with bad test results than it is to get caught cheating on your samples, which would very likely lead to serious civil and criminal penalties.

3. Tips on How to Take a Good Stormwater Sample

– Know the sampling requirements of your stormwater permit
Read your stormwater permit carefully! It will spell out exactly what your stormwater sampling requirements are and how to sample. Know the rules and get help understanding exactly how to fulfill those requirements. Permits usually outline when to take a sample, when not to take a sample, how long to wait after it starts raining or discharging, etc. They also tell you what pollutants you need to sample for, and how quickly you must get the lab analyses done. If you don’t understand, ask questions and get answers!

– Maintain clean stormwater sampling sites and equipment
Whether your stormwater sampling equipment is collecting from the end of a pipe or you are sampling runoff from a small, shallow channel, it is more likely that your sample will contain more pollutants if the site is not kept clean. If you collect from a pipe, keep the pipe clean. If you collect from a channel, remove all debris and trash regularly.

The same is true when it comes to your stormwater sampling equipment, make sure it stays clean and functions properly in order to get the best results.

– Know all of your stormwater outfall locations
Know exactly where you are going to conduct stormwater sampling. It is essential that you not have a “general idea” but that you know the exact location(s). It is very likely that you will take bad samples because samples were taken in bad locations. One very practical tip is to take a picture of the exact location and then make a clear mark with an “X” on the picture and include it in your Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP). Then place a sign at that same spot (many permits require this already).

– Regularly inspect your stormwater discharge location
Make regular checks of your collection locations to ensure that your structural stormwater BMPs are working well, that the areas are clean and free of trash and debris and look to see that even your discharge water that is not getting sampled looks clean. Dirty water may reveal the need for some further efforts to get it as clean as possible.

– Provide your employees with stormwater sampling training
Let your employees know what is going on with your stormwater sampling and train them to keep the sampling area clean and free of debris and also how to clean up any spills, messes, and other potentially polluting events that occur on site. And make sure that anyone who takes samples receives stormwater sampling training from experts and that their backup gets the same training. Train additional staff to be aware of when discharges occur and how to clean and maintain outfalls and collection sites. There is excellent EPA stormwater sampling guidance available on their website or from reputable labs.

– Collect quality stormwater samples
There are a lot of effective tips for collecting quality samples and these include techniques, timing, and common sense advice. It is important to never cheat on your sampling because the penalties are harsh and if you have installed your best management practices (BMPs) and are following the correct stormwater sampling procedures you should get high quality samples. Besides, if dangerous pollutants are still found then it is important for everyone that they are identified and mitigated.

4. Make Torrent your trusted partner

For all those who are new to the world of stormwater testing there are always a lot of concerns and questions that arise throughout the process. Finding an environmental testing laboratory that has lots of experience, fast turnaround times and excellent customer service will be your first step toward making the adventure successful for your business. Many can provide you with stormwater sampling kits that can be used for initial testing along with excellent instructions in stormwater sampling training for you and your staff. Your laboratory should help you to secure high quality stormwater samples every time.

Torrent Laboratory is your partner for stormwater discharge testing, monitoring and remediation. We are proud to work in partnership with regulatory boards, industries, developers and communities to meet and exceed all regulatory requirements to benefit and enhance the health and future of all of us.

Torrent Laboratory, Inc., is a state of California certified (CAL ELAP) Laboratory. Torrent Laboratory employs EPA approved testing procedures (Test Methods) and services that meet all quality control analytical and documentation requirements demanded by California regulating authorities.

Torrent has decades of experience and our chemists have a combined 150 years of analytical expertise. We know exactly how to serve you! Our final reports contain an additional attachment that includes the Federal Guidelines so that you can compare your water quality data. And, our relationship doesn’t necessarily end once you receive your data. Torrent is always available if you have additional questions or concerns.