Heavy rainfall can cause flooding and other problems when a stormwater management system is not maintained, and the resulting damage can have long-lasting environmental and physical impacts. Managing the outcomes of a poorly maintained stormwater system on a reactionary basis can become very expensive, very quickly.
A proactive approach to maintaining stormwater systems through proper and regular maintenance pays off for a number of reasons. It saves money over time, helps stormwater systems to function as they should, prevents flooding, and protects the Puget Sound and other natural waterways from harmful pollutants.
Stormwater System Maintenance and Water Quality
Regular system maintenance and storm drain cleaning remove trash, sediment, and debris from storm drains, roadways and other watershed areas to help minimize erosion and related damage and prevent flooding. So what does this have to do with water quality? Many paved surfaces and grassy areas are impermeable, so excess water runs off instead of soaking in.
Any pesticides, metals, and other pollutants from these surfaces often become bonded to dirt, leafy organic matter, grass clippings, and sediments. This water then washes into the stormwater system. If any part of the stormwater system has become clogged or otherwise fails, the danger of increased pollution, flooding, and other subsequent damage is real and significant.
The following stormwater system maintenance tips can help you assess and overhaul your system from an administrative standpoint, with additional tips on maintaining and troubleshooting various components of a stormwater system.
Tips for Managing an Effective Stormwater System Maintenance Program
Generally, a stormwater system maintenance program involves regularly inspecting, cleaning, clearing, and restoring activities, with the essential outcomes of public safety and improved water quality. Use the following tips to review your current stormwater maintenance efforts. Your stormwater system maintenance vendor should:
- Be able to describe, map out, and evaluate the current system
- Solicit input on potential or necessary improvements
- Design and implement a work plan with forms for maintenance task tracking and record-keeping
- Assess the program’s effectiveness annually
- Employ proper record-keeping for regulatory compliance
Continue to review regulatory requirements for your specific area’s system regularly. Stormwater regulations keep evolving and often require specific compliance actions for large and small municipalities and other systems.
Stormwater System Maintenance Tips
Regular inspection and effective maintenance of the entire stormwater system are essential. A well-rounded program should consist of maintaining the components of a stormwater system and the surrounding roadways and roadside areas that direct stormwater into the system.
It is critical to keep specialized water quality components such as sand and compost filters, oil/water separators, grassed swales, and detention pools clean and in good repair. Otherwise, stormwater may flow through these system components with no treatment at all. Use the following tips as a starting point.
Establish a maintenance timeline - Perform maintenance inspections on an annual basis. Some private stormwater systems have components such as filters that need to be checked and serviced at regular intervals or have fast-growing, invasive plants that need to be cleared regularly. These system areas may need monthly maintenance checks.
Use Stormwater System Maintenance Activity Checklists - Your stormwater system maintenance vendor should set up your site’s maintenance program with specific activities for each system area, including frequency. Include tasks such as the following:
- Clear debris, sediment, or trash out of all pipes, inlets, and culverts. Keep grates clear and remove obstructions.
- Keep grass areas and swales mowed regularly. Prevent any deposits of yard clippings or related vegetation and waste to prevent filling in over time.
- Check canals and ditches for any signs of erosion and stabilize the areas with plantings or sod. Regularly compare the original design with the existing dimensions and slopes to monitor and address any changes.
- Maintain wet ponds and lakes by removing trash, dead vegetation, and debris. Inspect outfall pipes to make sure they’re clear and open. Repair washouts or eroded areas with sod or vegetation.
- Routinely inspect any other outfall structures, looking for signs of obstruction or damage that need to be cleared or repaired. Remove vegetation or trash.
Use a Roadway Maintenance and Repair Checklist – Cover activities for areas such as the following, with an eye on protecting water quality:
- Street cleaning: Use newer sweepers, recycle leaf compost
- Snow and ice control: Avoid using salts; use chemicals sparingly
- Bridge repairs and maintenance: Protect exposed soil, paint over graffiti, avoid hot water, detergents
- Roadway repairs: Work in dry weather, protect storm drains, avoid using water for cleanups
- Surfacing/resurfacing: Recycle used asphalt, avoid using water for cleanup
- Use a Roadside Area Maintenance Checklist: Include activities for areas such as the following, with practices to protect water quality:
- Vegetation management and control: Use native vegetation, contain grass clippings, limit irrigation water
- Erosion control and repair: Use sediment controls
- Litter control: Use proper waste disposal, covered storage containers, deal quickly with illegal dumping
- Roadside ditch maintenance and cleaning: Remove silt, debris, overgrown vegetation
- Slope and wall maintenance: Protect storm drain inlets limit chemical cleaners
The Effects of Maintaining a Stormwater System
you have an effective maintenance program in place, it removes pollutants, trash, toxins, and sediments before they are discharged in the storm sewers and other drainage areas. This action improves water quality and keeps sediment and harmful pollutants from reaching rivers and streams. It also prevents cloudy water, silt buildup, and sediment covering gravel where the fish attempt to spawn. Effective filtering also prevents oil, grease, metals, and automotive hydrocarbons from building up in stream bottoms.
Floating waste, such as trash and debris, gets captured in filters to prevent collection at narrow points in streams, keeping waterways open and avoiding an unattractive and foul-smelling public nuisance. Proper vegetation maintenance keeps large amounts of organic matter out of streams to prevent the depletion of oxygen levels. This maintenance helps to support fish and other aquatic life.
Get Expert Solutions to Improve Your Stormwater System
Even with good maintenance programs, stormwater management systems in the Western Washington State area can still have unforeseen issues. Having access to improved filtration techniques, specialized vacuum equipment, expert system repair, and current knowledge of, and assistance with, regulatory paperwork can take your system from good to great.
Rely on CatchAll Environmental to provide you with all these solutions and more to enhance public safety and improve water quality. When you hire CatchAll Environmental, you can effectively put your stormwater management program on autopilot.