Keeping roadways clean
Roseville, Mich., has stepped up its street sweeping operations to help reduce the amount of pollutants that enter the storm sewer system and to meet stormwater permitting requirements. The Public Works Department recently replaced an old street sweeper with a new model that can collect smaller debris particles and will operate in cold weather.
By March 2003, cities with fewer than 100,000 residents were required to file permits that outlined their stormwater management plans with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The permits were part of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Phase II stormwater regulations that aim to control water pollution. To improve the water quality for the community of 48,000 residents, the Roseville Public Works Department began investigating ways to clean more debris off roads.
The department owned two sweepers: one truck-mounted vacuum sweeper that could clean catch basins, as well as streets, and one smaller, older three-wheeled sweeper. In April 2004, the city purchased a Waterless Eagle from Elgin, Ill.-based Elgin Sweeper to replace the small sweeper. The four-wheeled machine includes a dust control system that does not need water to operate and still meets the EPA’s strictest regulations for dust emissions, which are enforced primarily in southwestern states. “Those things haven’t hit out here yet, but I’m sure that’s something that the government eventually will require,” says Joe Montgomery, public works director. “Hopefully, when that comes, we will be ahead of the game and be able to proceed without any real problems.”
In addition to preventing debris from entering the storm sewer, the Public Works Department is cleaning streets in winter months. “We realized that without having to use water as part of the sweeping medium, we can actually sweep much later into the year,” Montgomery says. “I can sweep longer because I don’t have to worry about water freezing. As long as there is no snow on the ground, we can sweep year round.”
After the snow has melted, public works staff can clean up the salt left on the roads from snow control operations. “We use about 5,000 tons of salt a year to salt our roads, so one of the concerns is an environmental one and trying to keep as much of this salt out of the storm system as we can,” Montgomery says.
The department’s two sweepers now circle sections of the city every day, weather permitting, so each city road is swept six times a year. Public works employees also clean parking lots for public buildings and sweep streets before and after special events. For the city’s annual Independence Day celebration, the department swept the roads around Veteran’s Memorial Park to prepare for the thousands of attendees. “The city puts a lot of work into this. We make sure that the streets are particularly pristine for that type of event,” Montgomery says. “We really want to put on a good show for the people.”
The department has found that the new sweeper is collecting much smaller dirt particles than its previous sweeper and produces a cleaner road surface once the machine passes through. “The city made a substantial investment in the piece of equipment, but we feel that our return is going to be in what we’re not putting in the storm sewer,” Montgomery says. “It’s going to assist us in maintenance that we have to do in those sewers. If we can keep a lot of that material out of the storm sewer, it also doesn’t run to the lake, which is a really big plus.”