Property Manager’s Guide to Budgeting Stormwater System Maintenance for 2017

November 21, 2020
Posted in News
November 21, 2020 Seventy1 Environmental

This summer, many of you will begin your 2017 property budgets. The importance of allocating funds to stormwater system maintenance is not always an obvious one. Here we have highlighted what we think are the top reasons stormwater system maintenance should be included in the budget for every property with a filtration system, as well as what to include when factoring stormwater system maintenance into your budget.


Stormwater system maintenance is a municipal requirement.

storm drain
BMP maintenance verification form ca
storm drain

If your property was built in 2003 or later, you more than likely have a stormwater filtration system (aka stormwater BMPs) that requires maintenance. Each city verifies that 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 trouble when maintenance verification forms are mailed out to responsible parties each year during the dry season.

Preventative service beats corrective service.

stormwater vault needs cleaning
Rodent in Insert
unserviced vault

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.

Flooded loading dock
flooding storm drain property
grease in the storm drain

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 stormwater filtration system is working for cleaner waterways.

stormwater pollution on beach
stormwater outfall at beach
runoff flows to beach

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 our 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?


Regular Inspections & Service

filtration insert service
vault inspection
storm drain 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

Contech vault
filter media
Filterra system

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 Filterra biofiltration systems, mulch requires periodic replacement. Know what type of BMPs are on your property and if filter media is present.

Repairs & Replacements

damaged filtration insert
damage from cigarettes
damaged insert

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

Flooded loading dock
stormwater culvert needs service
Insert in need of service

Additional cleaning services may be necessary after heavy rainfall like we saw this past winter or after 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, our waterways.