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Commercial Stormwater System Maintenance Tips

Stormwater Maintenance for Commercial Properties
Cynthia Cline
Cynthia Cline
June 7, 2024

Maintaining a well-functioning stormwater management system is crucial for commercial properties and must address several challenges. Proper upkeep, preventing system failures, safeguarding the environment, and other requirements demand a robust commercial stormwater system maintenance plan. The following tips provide ideas for maintaining an effective stormwater management system year-round.

Build Seasonality into Maintenance Schedules

Each season brings unique beauty and challenges for commercial stormwater systems to handle. When reviewing a commercial property stormwater maintenance plan, ensure it contains activities to address the system's needs during different seasons. Removing leaves and debris in the fall is critical to ensure that stormwater drains remain free and clear. Accumulated piles of leaves, branches, and other organic matter can clog drainage, causing backups and flooding.

Frozen pipe and drainage

Snow poses some challenges to stormwater systems in winter, especially if the system is poorly maintained. Prepare for frosty months by inspecting the system and looking for points vulnerable to freezing. Check for exposed pipes that need insulating, and keep storm drains clear to handle the melting snow and ice.

In the spring, a thaw-out can reveal damage, such as cracked pipes. The freezing and thawing temperatures may have caused other damage due to the pipes' expansion and contraction. Check for eroded areas hidden underneath the snow and perform needed repairs to keep soil in place, pipes leak-free, and drains clear of blockages.

In the summer, the sunshine can cause excess vegetation growth, which should be trimmed and managed around stormwater devices. This step keeps the system clear and running efficiently, ready to handle summer storms.

Map Your Stormwater System

Mapping the details of a stormwater system allows for more comprehensive planning for maintenance and other activities. Visualizing the system on a map ensures that all system components are covered in the maintenance plan. A map can also help identify and locate problems faster and easier. Addressing blockages and leaks can minimize downtime, potentially expensive damages, and repair or cleanup work.

The components of a stormwater system are essential assets, and knowing the exact location, description, and condition of each asset helps commercial entities budget proactively for repairs and replacements. An accurate map can also save money by ensuring the stormwater system complies with local stormwater and pollution regulations, and it can become an essential document during an inspection or audit.

CatchAll Environmental prepares industry-leading maps for all stormwater systems that our team inspects. If you would like your stormwater system thoroughly mapped, schedule an inspection.

Use Oil/Water Separators

Proper commercial property stormwater maintenance helps commercial properties comply with regulations regarding the quality of the property’s stormwater runoff. In commercial property stormwater maintenance, areas such as busy parking lots with heavy vehicle traffic need oil/water separators to capture and treat hydrocarbons, keeping oil and grease from running off with the stormwater.

Oil/water separators remove oil and other contaminants from stormwater, helping protect downstream stormwater infrastructure from damage and other issues. Regular maintenance keeps these devices clean and unclogged so they do their job well without becoming overwhelmed during storms.

Create an Emergency Response Plan

A well-prepared plan enables commercial properties to take quick action in case of a failure in their stormwater system. This step is critical to minimizing damage and disruptions. Staff must have regular training sessions to ensure they are familiar with the response plan and know how to carry it out during emergencies.

Identifying necessary equipment and other resources in advance is essential so they are readily available to staff. A comprehensive emergency response plan also contains protocols for communicating about situations with stakeholders, such as the public and local authorities, during emergencies.

Integrate Advanced Monitoring Technologies

Advancements in technology have enabled the monitoring of stormwater systems in real-time. Cameras and sensors can provide data on water levels and flow rates, enabling quick issue detection. When anomalies are detected early, preventative maintenance or proactive repair work can reduce the risk of a significant system failure.

Some technologies gather data continually on the system’s performance, and analysis from these monitoring systems can help teams make informed decisions regarding system repairs and upgrades. Using technology to monitor the system can save significant costs through early detection and repairs, which may reduce or eliminate the necessity and cost of large-scale repairs.

Inspect Downstream Water Quality

Regular inspection and testing of downstream water quality can help identify pollution sources, allowing staff to develop and implement procedures to address the issues. This step protects the environment, upholds environmental standards, and prevents fines for regulatory non-compliance.

Inspections can provide feedback on the effectiveness of a commercial property’s stormwater management practices and ensure that they reduce pollutant levels at or above required effectiveness levels. Taking action on this is good for the community. It protects local water bodies, preserving and safeguarding the ecosystem. It also keeps the water safe for community use.

Add Green Infrastructure

Commercial office with green infrastructure

One of the commercial property management trends is green infrastructure. This set of sustainable practices involves rain gardens, permeable pavement, and other approaches to reduce runoff and keep stormwater on the property so it can sink into the ground. The natural filtration of soil improves water quality by effectively removing pollutants before the water flows into local water bodies. Implementing bioswales and similar green infrastructure can significantly reduce runoff and pollution while increasing underground water stores.

Green infrastructure becomes an attractive part of commercial property landscapes, costs less than some traditional stormwater system infrastructure, and provides new habitats for local wildlife. In addition, many municipalities offer credits and other incentives to commercial properties that incorporate green infrastructure into their stormwater management plan.

Integrate BMPs into Maintenance Routines

BMPs (best management practices) are techniques generally recognized as the most effective, efficient way to achieve specific goals. Standardized processes such as routine maintenance typically include some essential activities in stormwater management. Vegetation care, for example, involves regularly replanting and maintaining plants in bioretention areas to ensure they work as intended.

Sediment removal, which involves periodically removing built-up sediment from catch basins and other areas, maintains the capacity and effectiveness of stormwater management devices. Another BMP involves regular inspections to assess the structural integrity of the system’s components, address them proactively, and prevent failures. Whether using existing methods or cutting-edge technology, performance monitoring is another essential BMP that helps teams assess the system’s performance to ensure it meets its stormwater and pollution management goals.

Conduct Routine Staff Training

Staff Training

Just as routine maintenance is essential to keep the stormwater management system running efficiently and effectively, routine staff training ensures the team works efficiently by having up-to-date knowledge. Workshops, classes, and other education can inform staff about the latest stormwater management technologies and techniques.

When staff is well-trained, they can identify system issues more efficiently, leading to quick resolution and improved system effectiveness. Routine safety training ensures staff understand the protocols to follow in case of emergencies, system failures, and maintenance tasks, which reduces the risk of related accidents.

We had a client relatively recently who had a spill kit onsite and used it but also noticed that an oil spill had reached a catch basin and knew they had to call us. Having a reliable stormwater management vendor like CatchAll Environmental on hand is invaluable. They provide expert assistance promptly when unexpected issues arise, ensuring swift compliance with regulatory standards, mitigating environmental impacts, and safeguarding your business against legal complications and potential fines.

Regular training on compliance matters ensures maintenance practices comply with regulatory guidelines and requirements, which helps avoid potential penalties and fines.

Optimize Your Stormwater System Maintenance

Integrating these tips can result in a well-rounded, effective, and efficient stormwater system maintenance plan. Employ these strategies to protect your commercial property and the environment. Start optimizing your property's stormwater management plan by scheduling an inspection or drain cleaning in Tacoma. Contact our expert, professional staff today, and let us put your stormwater system maintenance on autopilot.