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Street and Municipal Sweeping:

Street & Municipal Sweeping

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Street Sweeping: Now Proven to be America's First Line of Defense for Stormwater Runoff Pollution Abatement


In the linked one-hour video hosted on YouTube you will learn firsthand how an enhanced street sweeping program, leveraging today's technology, has been proven with a high statistical confidence level to be "the most economical and dominant practice that MS4s can implement and optimize.

What's even more impressive is that this process can be achieved at a remarkably reduced cost per pound, up to five times lower than any other BMP! This seminar is particularly beneficial if your jurisdiction faces TDML waste load allocations, as it will equip you with demonstrated strategies to meet and quantify your progress.

This webinar is your opportunity to transform your pavement sweeping program into a leading stormwater pollutant removal program, resulting in a highly cost-effective process for eliminating the most critical pollutants. The information will include insights about the upcoming focus on removing, on the large side, overall trash, as well as small tire-based particulates, microplastics and more.

Watch the one-hour Zoom-based presentation. You may also view PDF pages of the PowerPoint presentation used.

Be sure to also read WorldSweeper's 'Studies' Section. As just one example: A groundbreaking study by the University of Florida has concluded that street sweeping is – by far – the most cost-effective BMP known to the State of Florida for removing (TN) Total Nitrogen, (TP) Total Phosphorus and (PM) Particulate Matter from the stormwater runoff stream.

Elgin Sweeper's Five Tips for Spring Cleaning

With street sweepers for various applications, the Elgin Sweeper team has extensive knowledge on spring street sweeping including a few tips to accomplish that. These are compiled into a PDF file, linked below. Read them.

The Crucial Role of Air Sweepers in Combating Stormwater Runoff Pollution

Street sweepers play a crucial role in protecting the environment by removing pollutants, including microplastics, from urban streets before they can enter the stormwater system and eventually end up in waterways. This makes street sweeping an effective best management practice (BMP) for stormwater pollution control. Read why.

A Discussion of Street Sweeping and California's Increasing Requirements for Large and Small Micron Removal

This conversation includes the latest information on the increasing emphasis on removal of small micron (under 5mm) microplastics, as well as on the removal of large material known as 'trash.'

Each of the participants has significant experience in the topic areas; Roger Sutherland and Ranger Kidwell-Ross in the street sweeping arena and Jill Murray with California mandates and efforts to remove both smaller debris particles and larger trash components from the pavement's runoff stream. Read all about it.

Sweeping and Pollution Removal: Sweepers & Tankers Podcast Episode

In this half-hour Zoomcast episode of Bucher Municipal's 'Sweepers & Tankers' Podcast,'s Editor, Ranger Kidwell-Ross, provides the latest documented proof showing street sweeping to be nearly seven times more cost-effective than the next best method (catch basin systems) for removing Nitrogen and Phosphorus from the pavement runoff stream.

This presentation is a shorter version of the one shown in our 'Out Front' section, above. It is in more of an interview/response format and does not include the additional info about how to minimize cost of operation and maximize cost-effectiveness value of street sweeping; rather, it concentrates on the value of street sweeping to remove pavement-based Total Phosphorus and Total Nitrogen. Watch the podcast.

10 Tips for Ensuring a More Environmental and Cost-Effective Street Sweeping Program

Our editor asked Roger Sutherland, arguably the world's top expert on street sweeper testing, to provide five ideas for what a sweeping program might do to increase its effectiveness. Sutherland took it one step further: He offered five ideas that could be immediately implemented into a sweeping program, then added another five that should be strongly considered.

Kidwell-Ross then expanded upon Sutherland's 10 items and they went back and forth from there. The result is a "must read" article for everyone involved in sweeping streets. Whether you are a street sweeping contractor, or a municipal manager or similar, you'll want to take a look at all 10. Then, consider implementing the offered suggestions as soon as possible.

Read the story.

Historical and Current Overview on Characteristics and Capabilities of Street-Class Power Sweepers

Some years ago our editor developed – and has since kept updated – this 10-page information file about street-class sweepers. The information starts with an overview of the problems with the 1980 National Urban Runoff Program sweeper studies and continues on to discuss the cost-effective value of today's sweepers as a BMP for reducing stormwater pollution.

The cost of removing pollutants via different types of sweepers is compared to that of end-of-the-pipe expense. The PDF-formatted file offers many tips about how and why to sweep, is an excellent reminder about the value of sweeping, offers comparisons of the abilities offered by differing types of sweepers and more. Go there. Opens into a new window.

City of Seattle Doubling its Sweeping Program to Address Stormwater Pollution

Because of Seattle, Washington's location on Puget Sound, and the difficulties it is having meeting mandated pollution reduction levels, the city is planning to increase its street sweeping program significantly in 2016 in an effort to reduce stormwater runoff pollution.

The expansion would increase the number of annual miles swept from 10,000 to 20,000, while the goal for pollutant removal is to increase from the current 100 tons of pollutants taken off the streets currently to 140 tons once the program is fully implemented. Access the info.

Street Sweeping: America's Proven First Line of Defense for Stormwater Runoff Pollution Abatement


Street sweeping has long been recognized as an effective best management practice (BMP), one that can reduce the amount of stormwater pollutants entering storm conveyance systems and receiving waters. Both authors – who offer a combined 80 years of experience with power sweeping – have long been avid proponents of sweeping as the 'first line of defense' for keeping pollutants out of the runoff stream.

Read the story and/or watch the 46-minute Zoom-based presentation.

Be sure to also read WorldSweeper's 'Studies' Section. As just one example: A groundbreaking study by the University of Florida has concluded that street sweeping is – by far – the most cost-effective BMP known to the State of Florida for removing (TN) Total Nitrogen, (TP) Total Phosphorus and (PM) Particulate Matter from the stormwater runoff stream.

Valdosta Georgia's Clean Sweep Project Receives National Innovation Award

An advanced City of Valdosta Engineering project, titled "A Clean Sweep of Data Collection," has been recognized by the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) for its creative and efficient approach to street sweeping, which involves installing High Definition, GPS-equipped cameras in the Stormwater Division's sweeper truck, allowing the staff to track, map and record video of the truck's route throughout the city. Read about it.

Using Sweepers as 'Curbline Plant Removal Machines'

WorldSweeper's editor was asked to provide his professional opinion on the advisability of requiring that a street sweeper be used to remove growing plant material from a curbline. This means plants in the cracks of the curbline, not plants sprouting in dirt that has been lying in the curb for an extended period of time.

The opinion was requested to solve a dispute between a municipal authority – which sought to have the language in its contract – and the contractor tasked with the job. Access the opinion info.

Implementing a Street Sweeping Best Practice

Through the years, the state of Minnesota has been one of America's leaders in developing best practices for street sweeping. When one looks at a map of the state and sees all the waterways it contains, it's easy to see why that might be the case.

The information collected for the study cover four different topic areas: Best Practices Overview, Types of Sweepers, Reasons for Sweeping, and Sweeping and Roadway Function. In our opinion, if you're in charge of a sweeping program anywhere and want to develop best practices for it, this document is a 'must read.' Access the study as a PDF.

More Street Sweeping Best Practice Info From Minnesota

This article links to a 2010 PDF fact sheet developed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The PDF outlines management options for reuse of street sweepings. It also provides a definition for what street sweeping materials are and are not.

The best practices handout was designed to provide an overview on material picked up via street sweeping. It includes:

  • What sweepings are and are not.
  • How material collected off the street may and may not be used.
  • Screening guidelines for the material.
  • Links to more information on the topic.
Access the info.

New Hampshire Watershed Organization Targets Parking Lot Sweeping to Improve Water Quality

Pennichuck Water Works provides drinking water for residents of the greater Nashua, NH area. Commercial and industrial land comprises about 13% of the watershed and their large impervious areas contribute about 40% of the phosphorus load to the water supply. Parking lot sanding practices also introduce high sediment loads.

As an urbanized watershed, existing developed land uses contribute pollutants such as sediment and phosphorus to the water supply ponds, which have in turn contributed to declining water quality and increased algal blooms. Street sweeping and catch basin cleaning, along with regular maintenance of stormwater practices, has been found to effectively remove phosphorus and sediment from watersheds. Although the watershed communities sweep the roadways and streets, private parking lots and commercial driveways are likely not swept as frequently or thoroughly as they could be, at least not on a widespread basis.

The linked study investigated the pricing differential between having sweeping (and catch basin) companies perform twice-a-year sweeping in an effort to reduce the pollutants, rather than have the Water Works do the tasks in-house. (Spoiler alert: It's less expensive to use contractors.) "Access the PDF report.

Power Sweepers Remove Stormwater Pollutants

Designers of sweeping programs need to learn about the relatively inexpensive role sweeping has in removing pollutants from the runoff stream. This article from Better Roads magazine, was written by our editor, Ranger Kidwell-Ross. Read the story.

Stormwater Regulations --
Now and in the Future

Street sweeping should be an important part of the management strategy for any stormwater pollution runoff program. This article from Better Roads magazine covers many technologies besides sweeping. Our editor adds the missing link. Read the story. (from our Environmental area)

Highway Sweeping -- Pitfalls and Safeguards

Scott Cerosky, president of leading sweeper insurer Pavement Maintenance Insurance Agency, offers tips on keeping your highway sweeping jobsite safe and accident free. Read the story.

Waterless Sweeping: The Future Is Not All Wet

Mark Kinter, formerly an engineer with Tennant and now with Elgin, offers this essay on the rise of waterless sweeping. We also have an overview of the current crop of sweepers that can sweep without using water for dust suppression. Read the story.

The Changing Emphasis of Municipal Sweeping May Be Tandem and Is Clean Water.

Noted sweeper researcher, Roger Sutherland, discusses the importance and methodology for moving sweeping from its previous emphasis on cosmetics to a frontline pollution removal method. Read the story.

Best Practices Publication Provides World Class Answers.

International publication discusses best management practices for sweeping at all technology levels. Great resource for those in sweeping, from developing countries to leading industrialized ones. Read the story.

California City Employs Innovative Merger of Sweepers and Cameras.

City of Palmdale, CA, uses sweeper-mounted cameras to cut costs for surveying roadway repair needs and more. Read the story.

LA Purchases Mechanical Broom EV Sweeper for City Streets: Is it the Right Technology?

On April 11, 2024, Los Angeles City officials Thursday unveiled a "first of its kind" electric sweeper, Elgin Sweeper's EV Broom Bear, in an effort to reduce the impact of climate change and electrify the city's equipment.

However, WorldSweeper questions whether choosing a mechanical broom sweeper because it was an all-electric machine – rather than procuring an air sweeper for city streets even if it isn't an EV – was the overall right choice. Read the article.

Citizen’ Education on Street Sweeping Offers Many Advantages

This is a PDF file compiled by WorldSweeper that lists 10 reasons why its important to educate constituents about the extraordinary value provided by street sweeping. Take a look.

Education and Training Can Mininmize Sweeper Fires

Through the years, the most prevalent cause of sweeper fires, at least when there wasn't an accident, has been careless operators cleaning up after large events. These include football tailgating parties, a season that is just starting, as well as many other kind of Festival-type events where someone has been barbecuing.

This article provides info on best practices for operators in the case of fire. It also covers most frequent causes of sweeper fires. Take a look.

The Intersection of Sweeping and Stormwater Pollution Removal: An Interview with Rachel Sim, Editor of STORMWATER Magazine

In August of 2020's Editor, Ranger Kidwell-Ross, was chosen to participate at StormCon 2020 Virtual, in a 'roundtable webinar' with three other presenters. The webinar was moderated by Rachel Sim, Editor of STORMWATER Magazine. In a turnabout of roles, for this issue of the WorldSweeper newsletter Ranger conducted a Zoom interview with Rachel on the topic of the increasing intersection of the sweeping and stormwater industries. Read about it and view the Zoom-based presentation.

A Johnston Sweepers Porous Asphalt Success Story

Sometimes, as John and Valerie Dewitz learned, finding a solution can end up causing more problems than you started with.

They had difficulties with their client's porous pavement being swept by a regenerative air sweeper. Once they bought and started using a Johnston VT652, the results became dramatically better. Read about it.

Can Street Sweepers Do More than Just Clean Streets?

In February of 2019 Rubicon began engaging in a smart street sweeper technology pilot with the City of Fort Collins, Colorado.

The pilot is part of an innovative project to gain visibility into street sweeper activity in the City, as well as to identify the type and frequency of obstacles in the field. One of our greatest takeaways from PWX was the untapped potential of city-owned street sweepers to collect and report back data as the vehicles run their daily routes. Read about it.

WV City Donates Surplus Street Sweeper to Neighboring City

The West Virginia Cities of Lewisburg and Ronceverte are located a scant five miles from each other. Lewisburg has owned its Elgin Crosswind Fury for long enough that it recently budgeted to purchase a replacement. Their innovative solution for disposal of their used one was a win/win for both neighbors. Read more.

Sweeping as a Best Practice for Stormwater Management's editor, Ranger Kidwell-Ross, wrote an article in August of 2015 for Public Works Magazine that discusses sweeping as it relates to stormwater management.

The article provides an outline of how sweeping has progressed as well as the current ability of more modern sweepers to address stormwater runoff pollution. Access the info.

Broom Operation and Longevity 101

Gutter and main brooms are one of the major wear items on a sweeper. In this article, Brett Wise of Oregon-based Owen Equipment offers an overview on how to ensure you get what you need out of your gutter/curb and main brooms: long life and effective cleaning.

Jack Moran of broom supplier, Keystone Plastics, also includes a table of troubleshooting information for tube brooms as part of the article. Read and learn.

An Overview on Porous Pavement Surfaces and Current Sweeping Best Practices

In the United States and around the world clean, unpolluted, water is increasingly being seen as the most precious resource on the planet. It is also being depleted rapidly.

One of the best practices stormwater managers have devised to address stormwater runoff pollution is to design porous, which is also called permeable, pavement. This is pavement that has been designed such that will infiltrate to a subsurface layer, utilizing the ground under the pavement as a recharge area. The article includes an overview on the topic, BMP information on sweeping porous pavement, and a 20-minute audio podcast with an expert in the field. Access the info.

Emerging Best Management Practices in Stormwater: Street & Surface Sweeping to Reduce Stormwater Pollution

"Stormwater is a leading contributor to water quality pollution in Washington state." So begins an excellent overview by the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center (PPRC) on how the sweeping of paved surfaces can reduce stormwater pollution runoff.

Via producing this well-researched document, the PPRC's stated commitment is to help businesses navigate a tangle of emerging sink-reduction technologies and techniques to achieve acceptable storm water quality. As an unbiased, nonprofit resource, PPRC is seeking to promote storm water practices that are both economically and environmentally beneficial. The focus of the report is to showcase the efficacy of sweeping practices as a best practice methodology for reducing storm water pollution. Access the info.

City of Moscow, Russia, Holds Yearly Street Sweeper Operator Competition

The City of Moscow, Russia, holds what is called the Moscow Masters professional skills competition each year. One of the competitive categories is that of street sweeper operator. The competition is seen as a way for sweeper drivers to showcase their skills. Plus, the first, second and third place winners each receive awards from the Mayor of Moscow. Go there.

Urban Sediment Removal: The Science, Policy, and Management of Street Sweeping

This is a preview of a 2001 book containing research into street sweeper effectiveness, sweeping protocols, and sweeping practices. The authors say they wrote the book to respond to a growing demand for information about street sweeping policies and management, especially for studies focusing on the effectiveness of different sweeping schedules, on waste management operations, and on non-point, pollution reduction practices associated with storm water runoff. Link offers a view of several chapters of the book, as well as offers a link to purchase. Go there.

Maintenance and Restoration of Porous Pavement Surfaces: An Overview on Current Sweeping Best Practices

Porous surfaces have been growing at a double digit rate the last several years as they have increasingly become recognized as a BMP to deal with stormwater runoff. They have been proven to be an effective tool to reduce the quantity of water and accompanying pollutants that are directed untreated to our waterways. Article discusses best sweeping practices to keep porous pavement cleaned so as to promote its function and increase its usable lifespan. Read the story.

Washington, DC, Campaign Designed to Reduce Litter and Graffiti

Campaign called 'Not in OUR DC! Pledge to Keep the Capital Clean' was begun in July of 2008. This Washington, DC, initiative was backed up by a variety of multi-media programs designed to reduce both littering and graffiti. Read the story.

Street Maintenance Best Practices for Minimizing Stormwater Runoff Pollution.

California Stormwater Quality Association (CASQA) handbook section provides ideas on what to do to minimize pollution runoff from streets and Highways. PDF file format. Read the story.

Best Management Practices for Street Sweeping.

Although conducted in 1994, this Minnesota regional agency's study information about sweeping BMPs still provides helpful information for most any sweeping operation. Read the story.

Factors to Consider Before You Buy a Street Sweeper.

Water quality specialist provides an insightful checklist for sweeper purchasing. Read the story.

Street Sweeping Overview.

With emphasis on San Antonio, Texas, city managers talk about their schedules, budgets, and public education.
(reprinted with permission from Stormwater Magazine, July/August 2004. Read the story.

Coastal Communities Turn to Street Sweepers to Battle Beach Pollution.

California's coastal communities are on the front line for reducing stormwater runoff pollution. Here's what they are doing. Read the story.'s Tip Clipboard section offers a host of best practice ideas.

Our extensive Tips section has many ideas for improving any sweeping operation. Check it out. Story Ideas?
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