Minimizing Industrial Pollution from Runoff
Progressive Engineer | Editor: Tom Gibson
Most of us are familiar with the municipal type of stormwater that flows as runoff from strip malls, big-box stores, public parking lots, and roadways. The rainwater collects in storm drains and flows through culverts or open ditches to a nearby river or sewage treatment plant. Along the way, it picks up pollutants such as motor oil that drips from vehicles, and it may pollute our waterways or overload wastewater treatment plants in a rainstorm.
But there’s another side to the stormwater equation: industry. Here, it becomes more of a point source, what Calvin Noling, owner and principal engineer at StormwateRx, describes as “incidental contact of manufacturing materials with precipitation or rainfall that falls on the site.” Heavy manufacturing facilities lie primarily in urban areas with large impervious surfaces, and they operate big pieces of mobile equipment, creating a similar scenario to the municipal type of stormwater runoff. “But it’s usually more concentrated, and they are different types of pollutants than you’d see off a roof or street.”
To deal with this, Noling founded StormwateRx (pronounced Stormwater Rx) in Portland, Oregon, which manufactures stormwater treatment and filtration systems and provides engineering services for industrial facilities throughout North America. “I’m an environmental engineer, and almost all of my career I have dedicated to industrial facilities,” he reveals. “I have just been fascinated with industry. I think it’s a very important part of our economy.”
Armed with a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Humboldt State University and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from Loyola Marymount, Noling first worked for engineering firms Metcalf & Eddy and CH2M Hill, handling municipal, industrial, and environmental remediation projects focusing on water, wastewater, and stormwater. Then he went to work for Stormwater Management, a Portland startup manufacturer of structural stormwater management systems, as director of industrial business.
Stormwater Management mainly focused on municipal stormwater systems. “My job there was to repurpose the municipal products for the industrial market,” Noling recalls. In 2005, a multinational pipe company purchased them. Noling decided it wasn’t a good long-term fit, “so I decided to start the company with the specialty explicitly in industrial stormwater.”