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Traveling Shows & Water Quality

Inspectors from Storm Water Services are checking traveling shows for compliance with water protection ordinances.


August 20, 2007

Traveling shows in Charlotte-Mecklenburg will be getting some additional scrutiny to protect the County's water quality. Teams of inspectors from Storm Water Services are now checking traveling shows for compliance with local surface water protection ordinances. The focus is on vendors and traveling performers such as the circus, Taste of Charlotte, Southern Spring Show, Speed Street, various festivals, and concerts. These mobile venues are already inspected by the Charlotte Fire Department for fire code compliance and the Environmental Health Department for food safety.

Traveling shows in Charlotte-Mecklenburg will be getting some additional scrutiny to protect the County's water quality. Teams of inspectors from are now checking traveling shows for compliance with local surface water protection ordinances. The focus is on vendors and traveling performers such as the circus, Taste of Charlotte, Southern Spring Show, Speed Street, various festivals, and concerts. These mobile venues are already inspected by the Charlotte Fire Department for fire code compliance and the Environmental Health Department for food safety.

It’s illegal to allow anything other than rain to go down a storm drain or into a creek. However, some operators of mobile food carts have illegally run grease lines directly into storm drains. Employees of many traveling shows live in recreational vehicles and have piped wastewater from their sinks, washing machines and even toilets directly to our storm drains and creeks.

County Water Quality inspectors will also look for signs that traveling groups dumped motor oil down storm drains after vehicle maintenance or that any fuel spills were not reported for proper cleanup.

According to Chris Elmore, a water quality inspector for Storm Water Services, dumping is not just an eyesore. Contaminants can kill fish and other aquatic life. "Water that goes down storm drains does not go to a treatment plant," says Elmore. "It's piped directly to streams that flow into lakes which provide our municipal drinking water."

Elmore says the first step is education. Storm Water Services is partnering with local sites such as Bobcats Arena, The Park (formerly the Merchandise Mart), Ovens Auditorium, Cricket Arena, and Bank of America Stadium that host traveling shows. The management companies at those locations are being asked to educate traveling vendors and performers about local water quality ordinances. On the property of those sites, storm drains are now sporting signs that say "Do Not Dump — Drains To Creek."

If Water Quality inspectors find violations, local fines could be up to $10,000 per violation per day. State and federal water quality fines are also possible. Fines could be assessed against the person who broke the law, that person’s employer, and the local site or management group that is hosting the event.

Elmore says the goal is not to collect fines, but to educate people and keep the illegal dumping from happening at all. But the water quality message apparently is not consistent nationwide. One traveling group told Elmore that the only other jurisdiction that checked them for water quality violations was Los Angeles.




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