Man Painting House

BMPs For Businesses

By understanding, using and adopting the following Best Management Practices (BMPs) recommended for your area business, you take a major proactive step in helping reduce and eliminate storm water runoff pollutants from contaminating San Antonio’s rivers, creeks and natural waterways. Your investment of time, energy and stewardship helps ensure that present and future generations of residents and businesses continue to enjoy a healthy and vibrant city with increasing potential for business growth and economic development.


  1. Surface Cleaning/Pavement Washing – The discharge of liquid and waterborne pollutants resulting from processes or operations employed in business, commerce or industry (inclusive of a mixture of industrial and/or domestic wastewater) is prohibited from being discharged into the MS4 by Section 34-702 of the City Code. Hosing down floors, paved grounds and other areas at your business site into streets or parking lots is against City Code 29-4. Dry sweep these regularly instead.
  2. Generational Waste Reduction/Elimination – Maintain and repair sources of drips and leaks when and where possible. Regularly replace worn seals on all equipment to avoid fuel and chemical leakage.
  3. Spill Containment/Cleanup – Prepare and use easily accessible spill containment and cleanup kits. Kits should include safety equipment and cleanup materials appropriate to the type and quantity of materials that can spill. In the event of a spill, use a dry-cleanup method such as absorbent material cover (i.e., cat litter, sand or rags for liquid spills) or contaminated soil removal for spills on dirt or earth.
  4. Proper Waste Disposal – Identify and designate hazardous waste disposal procedures for products utilized or released as a result of business practices. Industrial waste fluids (solvents, water-based paint, used oil/coolants) can be recycled. Identify and use proper hazardous waste disposal drop-off and collection procedures and ensure that non-recyclable materials are transported to an appropriate landfill or collection facility.
  5. Dumpster Usage – Always cover open dumpster receptacles with secured tarps or plastic sheeting. Never hose down dumpster interiors as a way of cleaning them out. Maintain a water-tight dumpster to prevent the discharge of liquid waste.
  6. Outdoor Storage – Provide covers and secondary containment for outdoor storage of all hazardous products and materials.
  7. Shipping/Loading Activities – Ensure that any and all loading docks are covered and utilize secondary containment to capture accidental spills or leaks which may occur during loading and unloading operations.
  8. Employee Training & Education – In addition to orientation for new employees, businesses, offices and facilities should conduct regular training, assessment and monitoring of employees during all cleaning, storage, disposal, and handling operations related to your business to ensure quality control and prevention of runoff contamination. Post BMPs related to employee procedures in visibly prominent areas where both employees and customers can see them.

Equipment/Vehicle Washing

  1. Cleaning/Degreasing Commercial Vehicles (Cars/Trucks/Airplanes) – Clean vehicles and heavy equipment with or without soap on a designated wash pad that discharges into the sanitary sewer.
  2. Truck Trailer/Boat Cleaning – Use dry cleaning methods (sweeping, debris collection/disposal) as much as possible. Hosing down truck trailers and boats on streets or parking lots is against City Code 29-4. Wastewater cannot be discharged into a storm drain.
  3. Truck Trailer Interior Cleaning (Chemical Spill Detection) – Avoid hosing down accidental chemical spills found in trailer holds. Instead, take immediate steps to prevent spill spread and runoff flow into storm drains. Call 9-1-1 for emergency hazardous material cleanup response. This type of cleaning is strictly regulated – wastewater cannot be disposed into the sanitary sewer without special permits.
  4. Fleet Vehicle Washing – Wash fleet vehicles on special wash pads that capture wastewater and discharge it safely into the sanitary sewer. Seal nearby storm drains to prevent runoff infiltration.
  5. Charitable Car Washing – Car washes for charitable events is against City Code 29-4 if wastewater discharges flow into the street, parking lot or down a storm drain. Vehicles must be washed on special pads that capture wastewater and discharge it safely into the sanitary sewer. For more information on Charitable Car Washes, refer to the San Antonio Water Systems links on the Tools and Resources webpage.

Automotive Maintenance Shops

  1. Shop Floor Cleaning – Hosing down shop floors and directing water runoff into streets or parking lots is against City Code 29-4 due to possible contaminants identified within this industry. Dry sweep floors regularly instead.
  2. Drip/Leak Prevention – Reduce or eliminate toxic chemical infiltration in ground runoff by identifying and fixing all sources of vehicular and equipment leaks and drips where possible. Conduct routine inspections and regularly replace worn seals on equipment.
  3. Spill/Leak Containment/Cleanup – Prepare and use easy-to-find spill cleanup kits and safety equipment in the event of an accidental chemical spill or leak. Apply cat litter, sawdust or other oil absorbent material on oil spills or leaks and properly dispose of absorbent refuse. Use drip pans to prevent spills or leaks from vehicles onto shop floors and place similar pans underneath spouts of liquid storage containers. Always drain excess fluids such as unused gasoline, oil, or other automotive fluids during and following maintenance activities. Use funnels when pouring automotive fluids and position catch trays underneath to capture spilled liquids. Routinely inspect and replace equipment and container seals as needed.

Power Washing/Surface Cleaning

  1. Debris Cleanup – Sweep, collect and dispose of solid debris whenever possible before commencing surface washing. Dry clean oil or fluid spots with an absorbent material (i.e., cat litter, sawdust, etc.) and properly sweep or dispose absorbent material. Vacuum or pump wastewater into the sanitary sewer and avoid hosing into storm drains.
  2. Restaurant/Grocery Store/Dumpster Alleys/Rear Area/Sidewalk/Driveway/Drive-Through Area Washing – Dry sweep and clean areas whenever possible before washing with water and soap. Utilize rags or absorbent materials when sweeping to remove oil, chemical or liquid product spills prior to washing. Ensure that soapy wastewater runoff does not empty into nearby storm drains, utilizing drain seals as needed. Vacuum or pump wastewater to the sanitary sewer. If washing without soap, channel wastewater runoff to soil or landscaped areas. Avoid incorporating cleaning products containing harsh chemical substances such as acid sodium hydroxide or bleach, since these can turn wastewater into hazardous waste.
  3. Building Exterior/Wall Washing – When washing with soap, avoid discharging wastewater into storm drains – wastewater must be discharged into sanitary sewer, soil, or landscaped areas. Utilize wash pads that capture wastewater and separate solid debris and sediments before wastewater disposal. Seal storm drains prior to washing in order to prevent runoff drainage. Use wet or dry vacuum cleaners to suck up and capture wastewater.
  4. Graffiti Removal (Wet Sand Blasting/High-Pressure Washing Methods) – 1) FOR WET SAND BLASTING METHOD: Use minimal amount of water needed and channel runoff to nearby landscaped or soil area instead of allowing flow into streets and storm drains. Sweep up solid debris, sediment and sand, disposing of all leftover waste to prevent future contamination. 2) FOR HIGH PRESSURE WASHING METHOD: Channel wastewater runoff to nearby landscaped or soil area and avoid allowing runoff flow into streets and storm drains. Seal storm drains and vacuum or pump wastewater into the sanitary sewer.
  5. Car Lot Rinsing (Dust Removal) – If using water only (no soap), channel runoff to nearby landscaped or soil areas on lot. Prevent runoff contamination by properly cleaning and removing any oil or fluid spills or deposits present on lot pavement or in the gutter.

Restaurants/Food Preparers

  1. Restaurant Floor Mat/Equipment Cleanup – Avoid washing restaurant, kitchen. food-industry related equipment outdoors where wastewater can enter a storm drain. Clean floor mats, filters and equipment inside with discharge diverted to a sanitary sewer outlet (mop sink or floor drain). Cover and repair leaky dumpsters and trash compactors, draining the pavement beneath them to the sanitary sewer.
  2. Kitchen/Food Preparation Area Grease/Fats/Oil Disposal – Store and recycle safe, usable cooking oil, grease and meat fats in sealed containers; never pour these down a sink, floor drain or storm drain. Properly dispose of old grease, fats, oil at a hazardous waste drop-off facility or other facility.
  3. Hazardous Waste Disposal – Used cleaners, rags and absorbent materials saturated with chemical solvents, floor cleaners and detergents should be properly disposed of at a hazardous waste drop-off facility or other facility; avoid disposing of these with regular waste.
  4. Kitchen/Food Preparation Area Cleanup – When washing and cleaning floors of food preparation areas, always empty wastewater and mop buckets into designated mop sinks which drain into the sanitary sewer. Pick up and properly dispose of illicit trash and debris found on the floor.
  5. Dumpster Maintenance – Always use sealable garbage bags or trash cans to haul and dispose of trash and debris in dumpster. Avoid hosing down dumpster interiors with water – request that your waste hauler exchange your soiled dumpster for a clean one. Ensure that dumpster lids remain closed and secure at all times. Keep areas around dumpsters clean and free of debris. Never dispose of chemical liquids, fats, oils or grease in the dumpster, and avoid overfilling which can increase the risk of illicit waste falling on the ground.

Commercial Painters

  1. Paint Supply Choice & Investment – Estimate paint volume needs carefully. Purchase and tint/mix only what will be used. Purchase and use latex-based paints instead of oil-based paints whenever possible since oil-based paints require chemical solvents for cleanup and cannot be recycled. If oil-based paints are a necessary choice, select cleanup solvents and thinners that are not chlorinated (i.e., use methylene chloride) or use non-solvent-based paint stripping products (citrus-based, peel-away). Choose paint pigments that do not contain metals such as copper and chromium.
  2. Paint Recycling/Reuse – Keep latex and oil-based paints separate so as to avoid costlier disposal. Consider using recycled latex paints which cost less than new latex paints and are equivalent to most commercial-grade paints in quality and color choice. When working with oil-based paints, reuse thinners and solvents for paint equipment cleanup by using wire screens to filter out small solid particles.
  3. Paint Storage – Indoor Storage: Always cover and seal materials securely to avoid leakage and contamination, as well as to keep paint from drying. Store paint cans upside down to keep paint from drying out. Paint-related products (i.e., brushes, rollers, trays, etc.) should be stored in a dry, covered area away from floor drains, storm gutters, streets and storm drains. Use absorbent pads to catch any spilled/leak paint or paint waste as well as to block storm drains. Outdoor Storage: Use tarps and drop cloths to prevent paint overspray and spills. Always protect nearby storm drains with burlap, sand bags or other spill barrier products during painting activities.
  4. Paint Cleanup: Exhaust paint on brushes and rollers as much as possible before cleaning – never clean equipment in drainage gutters, streets or near storm drains. When cleaning off latex paint, clean paint equipment in a sink. When cleaning off oil-based paint, reuse cleaning solvents and thinners in amounts prescribed by product directions.
  5. Proper Paint Disposal – Latex paint can be dried and solidified using a paint hardener or absorbent material such as cat litter; dried latex paint can be thrown away in regular trash. Dispose of oil-based paint in a hazardous waste drop-off facility or other facility. Consider donating excess unused amounts to organizations (schools, churches, graffiti abatement projects) instead of disposal.

Horse/Livestock Handlers

  1. Stable/Corral Location & Design – Stables, barns and corrals on properties designated for housing or handling of horses and livestock should be located on areas that drain away from the nearest street or storm channel. Install gutters that can divert rainfall runoff away from livestock areas. Standings should be constructed of concrete, compacted caliche or other impervious material that can be easily cleaned – these standings must be located under roofed areas of the same size.
  2. Pasture Management & Confinement – Horses and livestock should be properly confined in fenced areas except when grazing or exercising. Corrals, stables and barns should be located on higher ground and surrounded by pasture areas when possible so pasture areas can serve as a natural filtration system. Property fencing should effectively keep horses/livestock away from natural environmental habitats and creek/stream banks in order to prevent waste contamination.
  3. Horse/Livestock Grazing – Maintain healthy pasture areas for horses with at least three inches of leafy material present and divide grazing areas into three or more sub-areas. Tall weeds and old grass should be clipped regularly in order to promote grass growth. Exhausted pasture grass should be allowed to re-grow to 8-10 inches in height before re-allowing grazing. During periods of rainfall, implement indoor feeding which helps keep more animal manure away from rainfall runoff. Water should be provided to minimize livestock entering into streams or creeks for water.
  4. Manure Collection/Storage/Disposal – Collect and dispose of livestock animal waste by burial at least six inches below the surface of the ground, or by placing it in sealed containers for disposal as regular garbage. Remove all manure and other animal wastes from livestock pens, corrals and standings daily – manure must be deposited in a storage bin of concrete or metal construction fitted with a fly-tight lid. Collected animal wastes must be removed from bins and properly disposed of at least once per week at an approved disposal site. Avoid allowing manure piles to accumulate on property premises.

About Remember the River

Remember the River is a community campaign focused on nonpoint source pollution prevention outreach and education. The campaign is led by the City of San Antonio.

All campaign education and outreach efforts are conducted in compliance with educational/outreach guidelines established under a TPDES Phase I Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) discharge permit regulated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Contact Us

Darlene Dorsey 210.207.1011

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Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 839966
San Antonio, TX 78283-3966