COVID-19 InformationInformation and Updates for Community Members

Contact Information

201 4th Street SE, Room 108
Rochester, MN  55904

Phone:  507-328-2440

Contact Us



Stormwater Pond in the Autumn
Shoveling Snow
Sweeping grass clippings
picking up dog poop
Bear Creek & Zumbro River Confluence

Pollution Prevention for Businesses

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

Did you know that your business's actions can impact water quality? Rain and snowmelt carry harmful chemicals and sediment through our storm sewers and into our waterways. Learn how your business can help prevent polluted storm water runoff! All businesses, regardless of size and location, are encouraged to utilize stormwater management practices that prevent stormwater pollution. Learn more on the "Pollution Prevention" page.

Businesses that have additional stormwater management practices or regulations that can prevent pollution include:

Large Industry

The surest way to improve water quality in Minnesota is to better manage stormwater. Unmanaged stormwater can have devastating consequences on the quality of lakes, streams and rivers we enjoy. Stormwater often contains oil, chemicals, excess phosphorous, toxic metals, litter, and disease-causing organisms. In addition, stormwater frequently overwhelms streams and rivers, scours stream banks and river bottoms and hurts or eliminates fish and other aquatic organisms.

To better manage stormwater across the state, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) administers the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act in addition to its own State Disposal System requirements. At the MPCA, the Stormwater Program includes three general stormwater permits: the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Permit, the Construction Stormwater Permit and the Industrial Stormwater Permit. Each program administers a general permit (and in some cases, individual permits) that incorporates federal and state requirements for Minnesota stormwater management. 

The Industrial Stormwater Program's goal is to reduce the amount of pollution that enters surface and ground water from industrial facilities in the form of stormwater runoff. This goal is accomplished by requiring permitted facilities to develop an effective Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) which contains Stormwater Control Measures using Best Management Practices (BMPs).

Learn more about the MPCA's Industrial Stormwater Program.

Food Establishments

Believe it or not, restaurants can be a potential hot spots for stormwater pollution. Fats, oils, and greases (F.O.G.) that are improperly disposed of by pouring down the sink or storm drain can clog sewer lines and cause backups in the system. Garbage and food waste improperly contained outside of the building can lead to polluted stormwater runoff.

 Follow these tips to prevent your food establishment from contributing to the problem:

  • Poor wash water into down the sink. Don't pour it onto a sidewalk, parking lot, or into a storm drain. Water discarded down the sink will be sent to the Water Reclamation Plant for treatment.
  • Sweep materials up or absorb them using cat litter, which can then be swept up, rather than hosing them down the drain.
  • Keep dumpster areas clean and close the lid to prevent trash from becoming litter. Do not fill the receptacle with liquid waste or hose it out since liquid will mobilize potential pollutants within the bin.
  • Wash floor mats, garbage cans, and other large items inside over a floor drain or large sink.
  • Recycle grease and oil. Pouring it down the sink, into the street, or down a storm drain can clog sewer lines and cause backups.
  • Clean up litter and any food waste from areas around the outside of the building and parking lot.

Learn more about FOG from the Rochester Water Reclamation Plant.

Fueling Stations

Fueling stations and the activities that happen on their premises have the potential to pollute stormwater with gasoline, oil, automotive fluids, litter, and food waste. Stormwater runoff can easily carry these pollutants and carry them to area surface waters. Using Best Management Practices (BMPs) onsite can help gas stations prevent pollution of area surface waters.

Consider implementing the following practices to "Keep it Clean" at your station:

  • Ensure the roof covers fuel dispensing areas and waste receptacles. 
  • Direct downspouts away from the fueling area.
  • Have spill kits located in easily accessible areas.
  • Provide trash receptacles in easy to access areas.
  • Adjust sprinklers so they do not direct water onto the pavement.
  • Apply fertilizers or herbicides according to instructions and avoid applying before a rainfall.
  • Never wash down the fueling area with water unless you are able to collect and properly dispose of the waste water. Sweep areas instead.

Landscaping Companies

Leaves and grass clippings that end up in the street in paved urban areas are carried via storm sewers to area lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Once in the water, this plant materials will decompose into nutrients that pollute our waters. Significant increases in algae have negative impacts on water quality, aquatic habitats, and oxygen levels that fish and other animals need to survive. Some algal blooms can even be toxic to people and pets. It is because of this that grass clippings and leaves in the street are considered illicit discharges.

City of Rochester Ordinance 146A prohibits illicit discharges, including grass clippings and leaves, to the stormwater system. Illicit discharges are subject to enforcement per the Ordinance. It is your responsibility to remove the clippings from the street before leaving the job site. For example, many contractors in the area use a blower to send the clippings out of the street and back onto the lawn.

It is important to also remember that leaves should be raked from the curb line and either composted onsite or bagged for disposal. The street sweeping program is intended to collect leaves that fall naturally into the street, not large leaf piles gathered from elsewhere. In fact, is illegal to place leaves in the street, on public land, or onto private property without that property owner’s consent.

Disposal options for lawn clippings and leaves:

  • Bring leaves and lawn clippings to the Olmsted County Compost site. The site is located at 305 Silver Creek Road NE across from recycling center and hazardous waste facility and is open 7 days a week during daylight hours. Businesses are required to complete the Basic Solid Waste Registration form prior to disposing yard waste at the site. This is a free registration.
  • Use a lawn mower to cut clippings and leaves into compost that remains on the lawn. These small pieces will drop in between grass blades where they will then decompose and fertilize the lawn.
  •  Compost leaves and clippings. The finished compost product can be used to improve soils and provide nutrients to garden beds and potted plants. 

Animal Care Facilities

Dogs and other pets make wonderful additions to families, but pet owners must take responsibility for their animals, especially when it comes to their pet’s waste. As a provider of supplies or services for pets, you can be a spokesperson for clean water by encouraging people to pick up their dog’s feces. 

The presence of pet waste in stormwater runoff has many negative implications on water quality. Dog waste contains many different types of bacteria that can spread disease to humans and other animals. Roundworms, Escherichia coli bacteria, and Giardia are just a few of the many harmful microorganisms that can be transmitted from pet waste to humans. Pet waste also contains nutrients that encourage aquatic weed and algae growth, some of which can be toxic to people and pets. Decomposition of excess plant growth can result in reduced oxygen levels in the water, which negatively affects fish and other aquatic organisms.

In addition, not picking up after your pet is a violation of Rochester City Ordinance 106A.09. Pet waste is one of the many small sources of pollution that add up to a big problem for water quality. Fortunately, the solution is simple and safe: pet owners should pick up after their pets and encourage others to do the same.