What's the Problem?
Improper storage of chemicals and materials, leaks and spills from business operations, and washing/cleaning outdoors can cause pollution in our local lakes and creeks.
What do we do?
With support from and working with the Department of Ecology's Pollution Prevention Assistance program, the City of Kirkland inspects businesses and works with them to prevent pollutants from entering private and public storm drains, which eventually discharge to our streams, lakes and wetlands. Kirkland City Code (KMC 15.52.090-110) requires that businesses implement source control best management practices (BMP’s), as described in King County's Pollution Prevention Manual.
Source control best management practices are things you can do at your business to prevent rainwater from coming into contact with pollutants. Best management practices includes things like covering a pile of exposed soil to prevent erosion, covering materials stored outside, fixing leaking garbage dumpster or compactors, and having a spill kit on hand to deal with leaks and spills. Please refer to the Business Pollution Prevention Guide (PDF) for further information.
During a site visit the inspector will do the following:
- Talk with the site manager or owner and gather information about what types of activities occur at the site.
- Walk the site with the property representative and make observations about what best management practices may already be in place and which ones are still needed.
- Provide onsite technical assistance regarding the best management practices that may need to be implemented.
- Leave the property representative with information on the necessary corrective actions and/or follow up with a corrective action letter.
Kirkland businesses that operate sustainably can be recognized through regional green business program EnviroStars. Through the program, your business can get help going green, from protecting the storm drains on your property to upgrading your lighting and properly handling your hazardous waste.
Business Highlight - February 2020
A Kirkland dry cleaner, Classic One Cleaners, took massive steps this month to green their operations and prevent toxic pollution to our air, water, and soil. They are the city’s first dry cleaner to take advantage of the Department of Ecology’s new program to help dry cleaners offset the costs of eliminating and replacing old equipment that uses percholoroethylene, or PERC, in their cleaning equipment.
PERC is a dry-cleaning solvent that has been nearly universally used by dry cleaners for decades. Unfortunately, the improper use, storage, and disposal of PERC has resulted in contamination of groundwater, soil, and air around dry-cleaning sites across the country. PERC is also likely to be cancer-causing in humans and potential nerve and brain damage, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Through Ecology’s new program, Puget Sound dry cleaners can receive reimbursements up to $20,000 for upgrading to environmentally friendly wet cleaning practices.
According to the Toxics Use Reduction Institute, wet cleaning is a “water-based process that uses computer-controlled washers and dryers, biodegradable detergents, and specialized equipment to process delicate garments that would otherwise need to be dry cleaned.”
Classic One Cleaners has invested substantial resources in properly disposing of their old equipment and upgrading their operations. These efforts make them the first dry cleaner in Kirkland to switch fully to newer and safer wet cleaning equipment. Working with City of Kirkland pollution prevention staff, Classic One was able to take advantage of Ecology’s reimbursement funds, as well as additional rebates from the King County Local Hazardous Waste Management Program to substantially offset their costs.
“Kirkland is strongly committed to supporting businesses to manage potential sources of pollution in the most environmentally friendly way possible,” said Rachel Konrady, the City of Kirkland’s Surface Water Planner and Pollution Prevention Program Coordinator. “The Pollution Prevention Assistance Program is an excellent partnership between the City and local businesses to help implement meaningful changes to keep our streams, wetlands, and lakes clean.”
With 15 of 17 dry-cleaners in Kirkland now cleaning without PERC machines, the City hopes Kirkland can be one of the first Puget Sound cities to be completely PERC-free. City pollution prevention staff are currently working with the remaining Kirkland dry cleaners who use PERC in their machines to provide technical assistance throughout the replacement process.