Storm Water Management
MAA's Environmental Compliance Division ensures that all activities that take place at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall International (BWI) and Martin State Airports conform with environmental laws and minimize the potential to cause pollution of our land, air, and waterways.
One of the primary things that the Environmental Compliance Division focuses on is stormwater management. Stormwater management is the process by which water (either from rain or from melting snow or ice) running off the airport is managed to minimize potential pollution. Many everyday activities that occur at airports, such as fueling aircraft and ground vehicles; constructing new buildings and runways; storing, transporting and using pesticides and herbicides to control plants on the grounds; and deicing aircraft and runways during snow and ice; can potentially impact stormwater. Therefore, MAA has developed procedures and plans that airport employees and tenants follow to minimize the potential for stormwater from MAA property to impact the environment. MAA has put appropriate physical controls in place on its property to control stormwater, and it also promotes the use of Best Management Practices (BMPs) that everyone that works at the airports can use to prevent pollution before it happens. Implementation of these BMPs, good housekeeping practices, and appropriate stormwater controls can prevent contaminants from traveling in stormwater into storm drains and streams and from infiltrating into our groundwater. Therefore, by following these practices, MAA helps safeguard the water quality of our local waterways and the health of our aquatic ecosystems.
MAA's goal is to balance the need to keep passengers safe and commerce moving with the need to be good stewards of the environment-including preventing stormwater pollution where possible.
Ice, snow, or frost can significantly affect an aircraft's performance. That is why deicing, which removes these substances from the airplane's surfaces, is so important at BWI (little deicing occurs at Martin State Airport, since general aviation planes do not fly during winter storm events). Typically, deicing fluid contains propylene glycol and corrosion inhibitors to protect sensitive aircraft components. These chemicals can be harmful to the environment if not handled and disposed of properly.
BMPs implemented at the airports to reduce runoff of aircraft deicing materials at BWI include:
Pavement deicing on runway and taxiway surfaces ensures that there is adequate traction for aircraft during taxiing, take off, and landing.
BMPs implemented at the airports to reduce runoff of runway/taxiway deicing materials include:
BWI tenants use over 850,000 gallons of fuel per day, while 3,500 gallons per day are used by operators at Martin State Airport. Currently, fuel arrives at the airports by pipeline or truck and is kept in large above ground storage tanks. Proper procedures and training for fueling and spill response play an important role in eliminating discharges of fuel into the stormwater system. Personnel involved in fueling receive training regarding what to do in the event of a spill. At BWI, a secondary line of defense against spills are oil/water separators that separate oil and water and prevent harmful substances from reaching local streams.
BMPs implemented at the airports to reduce the potential for aircraft and ground vehicle fueling to impact stormwater include:
The maintenance and cleaning of aircraft and ground vehicles has the potential to contaminate stormwater if performed in areas that drain to the storm system or if spills and leaks are not cleaned up immediately. Hazardous materials such as paints, cleaners, solvents, herbicides/pesticides and other industrial chemicals can also contaminate stormwater if used, stored or disposed of improperly.
BMPs implemented at the airports to reduce the potential for aircraft and ground vehicle maintenance to impact stormwater include:
Proper disposal of trash, litter, cigarette butts, restaurant grease and other wastes is just good business practice. It is essential not only so the airports look clean and inviting, but also to deter vermin and keep these wastes from polluting our streams.
Trash and Litter
When dumpsters are left open, rainwater can enter them, become contaminated, and drain out into storm sewers. Garbage can be blown out of open dumpsters and carried into the storm drain system by wind or rainwater. Cigarette butts can be carried by wind and stormwater runoff into nearby water bodies, where the filters degrade slowly and leak chemicals that can damage aquatic ecosystems.
Good housekeeping practices implemented at the airports to reduce impacts of trash and litter include:
Restaurant Waste Disposal
Improper disposal of restaurant-related materials can cause pollutants such as fats, oil, grease, food waste, and paper products to enter the storm drain system. This can cause increases in bacteria levels in stormwater, impact the aesthetics of our waterways, and result in impacts to aquatic life or drinking water supplies.
Good housekeeping practices implemented at the airports to reduce impacts of restaurant wastes include:
Airport Construction-Sediment Erosion Controls and Good Housekeeping
In areas under construction, sediment from exposed soil can be washed into streams, destroying the habitat of fish and aquatic insects, covering their food sources, and clogging fish gills. Additionally, construction activities frequently involve the use of toxic or hazardous materials such as petroleum products, adhesives, solvents, and sealants. These products can pollute stormwater running off the construction site. Sediment and erosion controls, as well as good housekeeping measures, are required for all construction on airport property to prevent these types of pollution.
BMPs and good housekeeping practices implemented at the airports to reduce the impacts of construction on stormwater include:
Outreach and Education
Educating MAA staff, MAA tenants, and the general public about how to prevent or mitigate the impacts of activities on the airport on stormwater is very important. MAA uses outreach and educational tools such as this website, posters and brochures about stormwater, and training sessions for staff and tenants, to educate people about how they can help to prevent contamination of stormwater.
Outreach and education activities undertaken by MAA on stormwater issues include: