Property Manager’s Guide to Budgeting Stormwater System Maintenance

in Southern California

Stormwater System Maintenance

It’s a municipal requirement.

If your property was built in 2003 or later, more than likely you have a stormwater filtration system that requires maintenance. Each city verifies that stormwater BMPs are properly maintained through the Annual Maintenance Verification Process. Failure to maintain the BMPs and submit verification of maintenance could result in a notice of deficiency and possibly fines.

Budgeting for this required service will save you time and trouble when these verification forms are mailed out each year during the dry season. 

More about Compliance >

Preventative service always beats corrective service.

You may be able to swing one service per year at your property, but if site conditions, rain events, or BMP type indicate a need for more frequent service, it is wise to budget accordingly. The stormwater filtration system needs to be functioning properly, and the goal of your maintenance program should be to maintain that functionality.

Regular service over the course of a year is a more budget-friendly approach than having to immediately replace a component of your system because it has failed a city inspection due to damage from lack of maintenance. Filtration insert replacements are costly, and the weight of too much sediment buildup can damage these devices beyond repair. Damaged BMPs don’t fly with city inspectors, nor do they adequately filter runoff.

Odors, backups and flooding are no fun.

Stormwater BMPs are designed to capture pollutants, trash, debris and hydrocarbons. These things don’t always smell the best. In fact, the techs often comment on the unique smell of “stormwater sludge.”

The capacity of filtration devices is finite. At some point, the contents that have built up over time must be removed. Otherwise, it’s like an underground dumpster beneath your parking lot, emitting unwanted odors and potentially blocking the flow of water when it rains.

Your filtration system is working for cleaner waterways.

Stormwater runoff is a leading cause of water pollution. Your stormwater filtration system intends to capture pollutants as they pass from the street level into the storm drain system and eventually to nearby streams, rivers and ocean. Maintenance includes removal of these pollutants and ensures the filtration process is functioning as it should. Who wants to swim, fish and surf in nasty runoff?

Learn more about the impact of stormwater on water quality >

For a Healthy Stormwater Filtration System

Regular Inspections and Cleaning Service

The number one way to care for your stormwater system is to have it regularly inspected and cleaned. Service includes removing the buildup of pollutants and inspecting all components of each BMP to ensure functionality.

Filter Media Replacement, if applicable

Depending on your system, there may be filter media that requires replacement. Filter media inside of drainage inserts need to be replaced annually, while larger filter cartridges inside of vaults have a longer life. In planter box biofiltration systems, mulch requires periodic replacement. Know what type of BMPs are on your property and if filter media is present.

Repairs and Replacements

Damage to filtration devices usually is a result of regular wear and tear, old age, heavy rain, lack of maintenance and burning cigarette butts. Sometimes the device can be repaired and other times it requires replacement. Speak with your stormwater vendor about any anticipated repair and replacement needs.

Extra Cleaning Services

Additional cleaning services may be necessary after heavy rainfall or city inspections. It’s a good idea to add some cushion in your budget in case an unexpected cleaning is needed.

As you prepare your budgets for next year, be sure to know what type of system is on your property and what it requires to function correctly. Work with your stormwater vendor to develop a routine service program that meets the needs of your property, your budget, the city and most importantly, southern California’s waterways.

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