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5 Maintenance Tips for Stormwater Systems

Maintenance of Stormwater Systems
Cynthia Cline
Cynthia Cline
May 5, 2023

Stormwater systems are critical in protecting water quality and minimizing storm-related damage. However, these systems need regular maintenance to ensure they function as intended. If a stormwater management system fails, it can have disastrous effects, such as flooding that can cause pollution in local waterways and harm the surrounding ecosystem.

A large volume of uncontrolled stormwater can cause severe erosion and damage infrastructure such as roads, buildings, parking lots, and bridges, making them dangerously unstable. Proper maintenance improves water quality and keeps the public safe. The following five maintenance tips for stormwater systems can form the basis of a solid system maintenance plan.

1. Regularly Inspect Your Stormwater System

Stormwater System Maintenance

Inspecting your stormwater system regularly is crucial to identify and address minor issues before they become more significant. Regularly inspecting the system can catch brewing problems before the rainy season, allowing enough time for proper cleanup or repairs.

Inspect all system components, including storm drains, culverts, swales, and other management or drainage structures. During inspections, look for signs of damage or wear and tear in the system, such as cracks, as leaving these unaddressed could lead to a stormwater system failure during the next rainstorm.

Note any areas particularly prone to sediment and debris buildup, as these areas may require more frequent maintenance. You might find an accumulation of gravel and branches, grass clippings, garbage, and other blockages. It's also essential to check for any erosion or damage to the surrounding areas, such as soil eroding from the sides of a grass swale. If unresolved, soil can fill the swale, reducing its capacity to hold and treat runoff.

Also, consider using cameras or other tools to inspect hard-to-reach areas and get a more comprehensive view of the system's condition. Addressing these issues can help prevent damage to the stormwater management system and minimize storm-related damage to surrounding areas.

2. Establish a Regular Maintenance Schedule

In addition to regular inspections, a stormwater system can benefit from regular, scheduled maintenance work. Smaller maintenance tasks performed more often can prevent clogs, sediment buildups, and other problems at a lower cost.

Waiting on these tasks or sporadically performing them puts the system at risk of failure, resulting in costly repairs and possibly significant flooding and other damage to the surrounding areas. Regular maintenance tasks include cleaning the storm drains, catch basins, and inlets to prevent blockages and maintain proper drainage so that accumulated debris does not impede water flow, which can lead to backups and flooding.

Vegetation plays a crucial role in maintaining a stormwater system's health. Another one of the essential maintenance tips for stormwater systems is appropriately maintaining the vegetation in and around the system to prevent soil erosion, reduce sediment accumulation, and improve water quality. Regularly trimming and removing dead vegetation can prevent blockages and maintain the system's effectiveness.

Scheduled maintenance tasks include regularly cleaning out fallen branches, leaves, and other items from the system. Remember that maintenance personnel must properly dispose of sediment, debris, grass clippings, and other landscaping or yard waste to prevent it from entering waterways and causing pollution.

Pollutants picked up from streets, parking lots, and other areas become concentrated in the debris that clogs storm drains and can negatively impact water quality if not cleaned up and disposed of correctly. Proper disposal methods include landfills for sediment, landfill or recycling facilities, and hazardous waste facilities, depending on the nature of the debris and local regulations.

In addition to regular cleaning, consider implementing inlet protection devices such as catch basin filters and sediment traps to prevent or slow down the sediment and debris buildup. A well-rounded stormwater maintenance program ensures the system functions appropriately and protects water quality.

3. Plan for System Upgrades and Improvements

Maintenance on Stormwater System

As stormwater regulations and requirements evolve, plan for system upgrades and improvements to ensure regulatory compliance and prevent negative impacts on waterways and public health from poorly managed stormwater runoff. Before making any upgrades or improvements, thoroughly evaluate the stormwater system to identify areas that need improvement and determine the most effective solutions.

During the planning phase, prioritize areas most prone to storm-related damage or with the most significant potential to impact water quality. Actions may include retrofitting existing systems with new technology or adding new components to an existing system to manage stormwater better.

Additionally, consider incorporating potentially cost-saving and environmentally friendly green infrastructure into the stormwater system, such as rain gardens or permeable pavement, to help filter pollutants and minimize stormwater runoff.

Upgrades and improvements cost money; municipalities and other organizations may need more funding. Consider partnering with local organizations or agencies to secure funding for the most necessary upgrades and improvements.

4. Educate the Public on Stormwater Management

Educating the public on stormwater management is key to ensuring everyone understands the importance of protecting water quality and minimizing stormwater-related damage.

Organizations such as HOAs can provide information on properly disposing of yard waste, household hazardous waste, and other pollutants. This effort can help residents understand how their actions can affect water quality. Encourage behaviors such as picking up pet waste, reducing fertilizer use, and properly disposing of household chemicals.

Consider developing educational materials such as brochures or videos to help educate the public on stormwater management to motivate citizens to support and help maintain stormwater systems. Host community events such as workshops, storm-drain marking programs, and stream cleanup events to engage the public and promote awareness of stormwater issues.

Encourage residents to report any issues or concerns with the stormwater system. Their feedback may identify potential problems that crop up before the system's next regular maintenance check. Educating the public builds support for stormwater management that can translate into new initiatives among community leaders, elected officials, and other relevant individuals. These combined efforts can provide the political support needed to keep the systems well-maintained into the future.

5. Partner with Stormwater Professionals

Partnering with stormwater professionals can help ensure that HOAs, municipalities and other organizations tasked with managing stormwater systems can adequately maintain their systems and keep within regulatory compliance, among other goals.

These organizations may need more specific knowledge and equipment, be short-staffed or deal with budget restrictions and other issues, requiring them to hire third-party assistance to perform system maintenance tasks, improvements, and repairs.

The process can include working with engineers, contractors, and other professionals to develop and implement maintenance plans and identify needs and opportunities for system improvements. When selecting stormwater professionals, individuals or firms with experience in stormwater management and a strong understanding of local regulations and requirements can enhance an existing management team. Also, consider partnering with local agencies or organizations to share resources and knowledge on stormwater management.

The CatchAll Solution

Innovative CATCH-ALL® Solution

If you want to protect water quality and minimize storm-related damage, it is essential to maintain your stormwater system properly. Implementing these maintenance tips for stormwater systems can prevent blockages and other issues while protecting water quality and the environment. Regular inspections, scheduled maintenance, and system upgrades are necessary for an effective system maintenance plan. Still, you may need more expertise, staff, or resources to do the work and want to know, where are storm drain cleaning services near me?

CatchAll Environmental provides storm drain cleaning and so much more. Let's work together to keep our communities safe and minimize stormwater-related damage. Don't wait until the next storm to take action; contact CatchAll Environmental today to find out how our team can save you money and help put your stormwater system maintenance on auto-pilot.