More stringent regulations will require treatment of stormwater at outlets like this one at Indian River Lagoon in Stuart, Fla.
More stringent regulations will require treatment of stormwater at outlets like this one at Indian River Lagoon in Stuart, Fla.

Over the last 11 years, Captain Nancy Beaver's job has become a little more difficult each year. Beaver operates Sunshine Wildlife Tours from Port Salerno in Stuart, Fla. On her daily eco-excursion, a group of self-taught naturalists share her passion for protecting the Indian River Lagoon.

From Beaver's perspective, one of the lagoon's greatest threats comes from untreated stormwater during the rainy season. “We must become more proactive about the sediments and pollutants entering this fragile marsh,” Beaver told her 25 guests.

To prove her point, she paused her pontoon boat at several locations and pointed to potential problems land development has created. She passed several stormwater outlets, pointed to the outfall area, and described how much more sediment has developed there compared to her first visit.

Fortunately for eco-advocates like the captain, efforts are being made around the country to help reduce stormwater pollution. Municipalities and state and federal agencies have adopted increasingly stringent stormwater quality regulations. For producers, this could be good news. Significant portions of the federal government's stimulus package passed early this year include funding to upgrade stormwater systems.

The U.S. EPA has become increasingly receptive in using flow-through structures that settle, separate, and remove sediments and other pollutants from stormwater. These hydrodynamic separators require no outside power source. They use the energy of the flowing water to efficiently separate sediments.

Hydrodynamic separators are most effective when the materials to be removed from runoff are heavy particulates (which can be settled) or floatables (which can be captured), rather than solids or dissolved pollutants.

Today, hydrodynamic separator manufacturers have refined their designs to meet the tighter emission regulations. Concrete producers serving the water treatment market now have a host of new and different products for their clients.

Hydrodynamic separator technology may be used by itself or as an addition to other stormwater management plans. They come in many sizes, with some small enough to fit into conventional manholes. This makes hydrodynamic separators ideal where land availability is limited.

Also, because they can be placed in almost any location in a system, they are ideal for use in potential stormwater “hot spots,” or areas near gas stations where higher concentrations of pollutants are more likely to occur.

Concrete producers can participate in this growing industry in two ways. They can become licensed producers and cast special containment vessels for proprietary hydrodynamic separators. Or they can sell specialized systems that transform traditional concrete units into hydrodynamic separators using attachments.