Minotaur Stormwater Services
Why should you be concerned about what enters your storm drains? Anything entering a storm drain or catch basin usually runs untreated into the nearest stream, river or lake. That includes soils, road wear, pesticides, heavy metals, chemicals, oil, gas and other contaminants. Stormwater runoff is the most common cause of water pollution.
Polluted stormwater threatens aquatic ecosystems and wreaks havoc on waterways, property, and local economies. Water quality plays a significant role in public health, quality of life, and the economy, and Canada, with the world’s largest supply of fresh water, needs to be a good steward of this precious resource.
In response to Ontario’s Water Resources Act and the Environmental Protection Act, the infrastructure construction industry has been addressing the stormwater quality issue with the underground installation of stormwater oil/grit separators linked to the stormwater sewers. The engineered stormwater treatment structures effectively remove fine sediment and hydrocarbons from storm and snow melt runoff. In Ontario alone there are more than 7,000 of these units and over 30,000 global installations go to work during each storm.
Minotaur Stormwater Services focuses its efforts on supplying the required Ministry of the Environment (MOE) compliance inspections, servicing the oil/grit separators, and assuring that they perform in compliance with regulations and warranty specifications. The Canadian Business Journal spoke with Garnet Shaver, Founder and CEO, about the role stormwater oil/grit separators play in stormwater quality compliance and the company’s role as inspector of these systems.
According to Shaver, people do not have a good grasp of what happens with stormwater that flows through the storm sewers of our cities and towns; with most people assuming that the water disappearing in the storm drain at the side of the street goes to the water treatment plant and receives treatment before it’s discharged to our lakes and rivers. “This is not the case, and this water [unless it goes through an oil grit interceptor] goes straight into the river or the lake downstream. At Minotaur we spend a lot of time educating people about what needs to be done and about their environmental responsibilities. Creating awareness about the importance of the stormwater quality is a big part of our business. That’s where our motto ‘we all live downstream’ comes from, because someone downstream will have to deal with what has been allowed to happen upstream,” says Shaver.
Every stormwater quality device installed, including Stormceptor® units (a major stormwater treatment technology used in the Canadian water infrastructures today), requires a permit from the Ministry of the Environment, and a part of the requirement is that they are inspected, maintained, and repaired, if required, on a regular basis. According to the Stormceptor® website, these units should be inspected every six months in the first year of operation to determine the oil and sediment accumulation rate, and further inspection should be based on first year accumulation observations, with cleaning required once the sediment depth reaches 15 per cent of storage capacity, or as required by local regulations (frequency, sediment depth, etc.).
“Stormwater devices require inspection and maintenance like any other products, so we at Minotaur struck a relationship with the major producers of these systems to carry out the monitoring and maintenance on these products in 2000,” says Shaver. Hanson Pipe & Precast and Lécuyer et Fils Ltée include Minotaur inspection and service as a part of the Quality Assurance package when contractors purchase the product. Under the program, Minotaur inspects and maintains the product for up to five years. Once the program expires, Minotaur offers the property owners the option to continue their relationship with Minotaur as a compliance inspection provider. Minotaur’s relationship with the Stormceptor® manufacturers in Ontario and Québec effectively brings a steady influx of projects to the company.
Minotaur provides its services to most major players in the petrochemical retail business (gas stations), and major retailers, who also continue to seek out solutions and services for their environmental risk management plans. There are federal, provincial and municipal regulations to comply with as well as site plan agreements.
“We are currently working on several projects for large property owners, and it’s all due to our experience. I have 34 years of experience in the sewer and water main business, and 12 years in stormwater quality specialization, and our team offers solid experience as well, so we have the expertise to also provide advice and consulting either for new construction or reconstruction sites in regards to stormwater drainage,” says Shaver.
Shaver and his wife Marilyn, who is also involved with the family business as office administrator, are more than pleased that their sons Aaron and Carson have joined the company full time. The current Minotaur staff of nine executes approximately 2,500 inspections in Ontario and Quebec annually.
A comprehensive inspection, monitoring and service program for Stormceptor® oil/grit separators was not available until it was developed and implemented by Minotaur. Since incorporation in January 2000, Minotaur has become the leading specialist in the inspection and service of these units; the company also conceived and developed a unit that increases oil storage volume for safe oil spill containment.
Minotaur’s goal for 2013, as part of its continuing public education program, will focus on the real estate sector. The issue of due diligence stormwater inspections at the time of purchase or lease is just becoming apparent. The purchase of a property with any of these devices requires transfer of the MOE Environmental Compliance Certification [formerly the Certificate of Approval] to the new owner. This should preclude an inspection of the system, and prevent transfer of a potentially costly maintenance issue to the new property owner. The same is true for a “Triple Net” leasee. The property management sector has gained an awareness of these issues and now it’s time for the real estate sector to do the same.
Minotaur is looking at similar stormwater quality areas that could benefit from the Minotaur experience, such as sand filters, bio swales, ponds and underground reservoirs. “By law, all stormwater drainage systems are required to have stormwater quality systems installed and they require inspection in order to operate at their optimal level, so there are additional services we can provide,” says Shaver.
Being concerned about what enters our cities storm drains is everyone’s responsibility so we can all swim in safe waters and eat the fish we catch. Combating stormwater pollution requires ingenuity and commitment, and Minotaur is dedicated to educating and supporting property owners to meet their stormwater quality objectives.