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ECAR Fact Sheet for Wisconsin

Self-Audit Checklist
Best Management Practices
Related ECAR Fact Sheets
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The following fact sheet was prepared by the ECAR Center staff. Once prepared, each ECAR Center fact sheet undergoes a review process with the applicable state environmental agency(ies). You can check on the status of the review process here. Please read the disclaimer on the status page. While we have tried to present a summary of the essential information on this topic, you should be aware that other items, such as local regulations, may apply to you.

What You Need to Know

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All vehicle dismantling facilities in the United States (except those in a combined sewer service area or facilities that do not discharge stormwater from their property) are required by the Clean Water Act to obtain a stormwater permit either from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or from an appropriate state agency. For more information on EPA’s stormwater regulations, please see:

Federal EPA National Pollutant Elimination Discharge System (NPDES) Stormwater Regulations

EPA defines automobile salvage yards and scrap recycling facilities as industries eligible to use the multi-sector general permit (MSGP). Sector M: Auto Salvage Yards

Included in this permitting process are requirements to file a Notice of Intent (NOI) with the appropriate state agency and to prepare a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) to describe how you will address your facility’s stormwater issues. For information on how to comply with these requirements, please see:

EPA’s Multi-Sector General Permit

The Clean Water Act requires virtually every automotive salvage or recycling operator to obtain a stormwater permit. The exceptions to this rule are few, and they are explained further in the detailed information provided below. Therefore, if you own or operate a salvage or recycling operation and you do not currently have a stormwater permit, you most likely are out of compliance. The purpose of this fact sheet is to help you either to get into compliance or to assist you to develop a more efficient and effective compliance strategy.

Rain or snow falling on your property can pick up contaminants as it runs off, and can carry the contaminants through drainage systems directly into streams, rivers, and lakes. The term "stormwater" refers to this type of runoff.

In 1987, Congress mandated that "industrial" sites obtain stormwater permits. In 1990, EPA defined "industrial" to include, among many other types of sites, "salvage yards and automotive [recyclers]." [Title 40 CFR 122.26(b)(14)(vi)]. These mandates apply across the country, regardless of your state. Congress and EPA took this action because stormwater that comes in contact with metals, oil and grease, used batteries and tires, and other materials common at automotive recycling facilities may cause localized pollution that can affect the local community's ability to swim and fish in lakes, rivers, and streams.

For example, the mercury that still may be found in old automotive switches or even some new parts is toxic to humans and to the fish they may catch and eat. By obtaining a stormwater permit, and more importantly, by taking some common sense actions under the permit to prevent stormwater contamination, you can provide your community with environmental benefits to compliment the value of recycling end-of-life vehicles.

Although Congress and EPA created the national rules that provide the basic framework for stormwater regulations, the rules are implemented by the individual state environmental agencies. EPA may help certain states develop programs and it provides guidance to all states, but for the most part, you obtain a stormwater permit from your state environmental agency. Information about your state permit, compliance requirements, contact information, and other helpful hints are provided in the following pages of this site. The most important part of the compliance program is developing a stormwater pollution prevention plan, and this site will help you to develop such a plan. The key for you is to make sure that you implement the plan and adhere to your legal obligations.


Since 1990, federal regulations require automotive recyclers to obtain coverage under an industrial stormwater permit to prevent stormwater pollution. In Wisconsin, EPA has delegated its authority to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to implement the stormwater program and issue stormwater permits.

The DNR issues stormwater permits under the Wisconsin's Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permitting program. The stormwater WPDES permit requires development and implementation of a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP). Your SWPPP must include a description of potential sources of stormwater pollution and measures and controls, including best management practices (BMPs) that will be implemented at your facility to prevent or minimize stormwater contamination. When developing the SWPPP you must consider the use of certain BMPs that EPA and DNR consider applicable to specific areas such as vehicle dismantling/storage areas and fluids storage areas. For more specific information on developing a Pollution Prevention Plan, visit the ECAR SWPPP fact sheet.

In Wisconsin, auto recyclers must:

  • Apply for a Stormwater Permit

To obtain coverage under the stormwater permit, you must submit an Industrial Facility Notice of Intent (DNR Form 3400-163) to the DNR. A Notice of Intent can be obtained at: http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/runoff/stormwater/permits/

Note: Permit coverage is not conferred until the Department sends a letter to the applicant granting permit coverage.

  • Meet the Requirements of the Stormwater Permit

One of two stormwater permits will apply to you depending on your industrial classification. How these permits apply to your facility will vary depending on whether or not you elect to participate in a Cooperative Compliance Program. Thus, your next step is deciding whether you want to join a CCP program or proceed on your own to meet the requirements of the Stormwater Permit. Check the links below for more information about the Stormwater Permit Requirement and CCP.

For Auto Recyclers:

Links to the Regulations and Forms. Use the following links to view the regulations pertaining to stormwater management.

Chapter NR 216 Stormwater Discharge Permits (Unofficial Text)

Federal EPA National Pollutant Elimination Discharge System (NPDES) Stormwater Regulations

WPDES General Permit Notice of Intent Form

WPDES General Permit Information

Self-Audit Checklist

When an inspector comes to your facility, there are certain things he or she checks to see if you are in compliance with environmental regulations. It makes good sense for you to perform a "self-audit" and catch and correct problems before they result in penalties. Also, there are some compliance incentives associated with self-audits (see Audit Policy Page).

Use the following list to audit your stormwater permit.

  1. Does your facility have a stormwater permit? Verify that your facility has a current stormwater permit issued by the DNR if your facility falls under the requirement.
  2. Has your facility developed and implemented a stormwater pollution prevention plan? Verify that a SWPPP has been prepared and is available on-site for inspection. Review the plan and verify that BMPs have been implemented.
  3. Does your facility have a stormwater monitoring program? Determine whether to join a Cooperative Compliance Program or meet the requirements on your own. In either case, review your records to verify that visual observations and sampling have been performed

Best Management Practices (BMPs)

The following is a list of BMPs for auto salvage facilities identified by EPA when the stormwater regulations were published:

Dismantling and vehicle maintenance:

  • Drain all fluids from vehicles upon arrival at the site. Segregate the fluids and properly store or dispose of them.
  • Maintain an organized inventory of materials used in the maintenance shop.
  • Keep waste streams separate (i.e. waste oil and solvents). Non-hazardous substances that are contaminated with hazardous substances are considered a hazardous waste.
  • Recycle antifreeze, gasoline, used oil, mineral spirits and solvents.
  • Dispose of greasy rags, oil filters, air filters, batteries, spent coolants and degreasers properly.
  • Label and track the recycling of waste material.
  • Drain oil filters before disposal or recycling.
  • Store cracked batteries in a nonleaking secondary container.
  • Promptly transfer used fluids to the proper container.
  • Do not pour liquid waste down floor drains, sinks or outdoor storm drains.
  • Plug floor drains that are connected to the storm or sanitary sewer. If necessary, install a sump that is pumped regularly.
  • Inspect the maintenance area regularly for proper implementation of control measures.
  • Filter stormwater discharges with devices such as oil-water separators.
  • Train employees on proper waste control and disposal procedures.

Outdoor vehicle, equipment and parts storage:

  • Use drip pans under all vehicles and equipment waiting for maintenance and during maintenance.
  • Store batteries on impervious surfaces. Curb, dike or berm this area.
  • Confine storage of parts, equipment and vehicles to designated areas.
  • Cover all storage areas with permanent cover (roof) or temporary cover (canvas tarps).
  • Inspect the storage yard for drip pans and other problems regularly.

Vehicle, equipment and parts washing areas:

  • Avoid washing parts or equipment outside.
  • Use phosphate-free biodegradable detergents.
  • Consider using detergent-based or water-based cleaning systems in place of organic solvent degreasers.
  • Designate an area for cleaning activities.
  • Contain steam cleaning washwaters or discharge under an applicable NPDES permit.
  • Ensure that washwaters drain well.
  • Inspect cleaning area regularly.
  • Install curbing, berms or dikes around cleaning areas.

Liquid storage in above ground containers:

  • Maintain good integrity of all storage containers.
  • Install safeguards (such as berms) against accidental releases in the storage area.
  • Inspect storage tanks to detect potential leaks. Perform preventative maintenance.
  • Inspect piping systems for failures or leaks.
  • Train employees on proper filling and transfer procedures.

Improper connection with storm sewers:

  • Plug all floor drains if it is unknown whether the connection is to storm sewer or sanitary sewer. Alternatively, install a sump that is pumped regularly.
  • Update facility schematics to accurately reflect all plumbing connections.
  • Install a safeguard against vehicle washwaters and parts cleaning water entering the storm sewer unless permitted.
  • Maintain and inspect the integrity of all underground storage tanks; replace when necessary.


  1. For general permit questions, contact 715-831-3263.
  2. In the event of a pollution emergency, contact 1-800-943-0003.

Related ECAR Fact Sheets

  1. SWPPP

Other Relevant Resources

  1. Wisconsin Stormwater Management page
  2. EnvCAP's Industrial Stormwater Resource Locator
  3. PNEAC Offers Industrial Stormwater Permit Guide


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