• Published
  • 78th Civil Engineering Environmental Branch

Stormwater Straight Talk is a quarterly column intended to educate and inform base personnel and families about stormwater management.

 Put a lid on it! Keeping waste out of stormwater

Dumpsters, hoppers, and roll-offs can contain a variety of substances including, but not limited to, household waste, construction debris, metal shavings, and hazardous substances. Uncovered dumpsters, roll-offs, and hoppers are exposed to precipitation from rain events. Rain water can wash contaminants out of a waste container and into the stormwater collection system.  The stormwater system then discharges untreated, contaminated water directly to surrounding streams, lakes, and rivers.

 Providing a cover for a waste container may be the easiest way to prevent the release of potentially contaminated stormwater.  The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA EPD) has recently reissued the Industrial Stormwater General Permit and is in the process of finalizing an update to the Construction Stormwater General Permit to include controls for dumpster, hoppers, and roll-offs that have the potential to contaminate stormwater.

The final 2017 Industrial General Permit states, “keep all dumpster lids closed when not in use.  For dumpsters and roll off boxes that do not have lids and could contaminate stormwater, ensure that discharges have a control.”

 The draft Construction General Permit states, “for building materials, building products, construction wastes, trash, landscape materials, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, detergents, sanitary waste and other materials present on the site, provide cover (e.g. plastic sheeting, temporary roofs) to minimize the exposure of these products to precipitation and to stormwater, or a similarly effective means designed to minimize the discharge of pollutants from these areas.” 

 Covers may include, but are not limited to, enclosure with a lid, tarp, or canopy with tie down straps.  Tarps may be a simple temporary solution; however, they can be removed by wind if not tied down properly.  In addition, tarps easily sag with the weight of water and therefore require frequent adjusting.  Containers may also be located under shelters or placed in existing secondary containment areas.  Containers should always be placed downgradient of stormwater inlets, where possible.

 Covering waste containers may have additional benefits including: elimination of moisture from waste containers reduces the overall weight of the waste, which may result in cost savings on landfill tipping fees.  Additionally, lids may prevent illegal dumping and may reduce the amount of wind-blown trash around a dumpster.


Below are some tips for managing waste containers with respect to stormwater: 

  • Keep sliding doors and top lids closed, except when filling or emptying;
  • Ensure tarps are properly secured over the container and inspect following rain events;
  • Locate waste containers downgradient of storm drains;
  • Inspect waste containers for holes, rust, or leaking liquids;
  • Do not place liquids in waste containers;
  • Properly dispose of hazardous waste and cooking grease; and
  • Place uncovered waste containers under an existing cover or provide a cover.

 For more information, call 472-8411.