Stormwater Facility Maintenance
Did you know that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) inspects over 5,000 stormwater facilities regularly?
Stormwater facilities have two functions:
- They hold stormwater runoff from urban surfaces such as roads, parking lots, and rooftops. This removes some volume that would otherwise flush through local natural streams and destroy them.
- They remove pollutants from the runoff.
These facilities help to slow down stormwater and clean it before it is allowed to discharge into local streams, and they help to safeguard our waterways. They are vital infrastructure in the urban environment. DEP’s Stormwater Facility Maintenance Program is paid for by the Water Quality Protection Charge, a line item on property tax bills.
At the Clarksburg Ridge Home Owners Association, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) contractors replanted a bio-retention stormwater facility in 2011. DEP inspects over 160 vegetated stormwater facilities—including bioretention gardens, rain gardens, tree boxes, and vegetated swales—regularly. It maintains approximately half of these.
Bioretention basins operate by filtering stormwater runoff through densely planted surface vegetation and then percolating the runoff through a filter (such as sand). During percolation, pollutants are retained through fine filtration, adsorption (attaching to other particles), and some biological uptake (e.g., by plants). The runoff is then collected, using perforated pipes, and it flows to downstream waterways or to further storage and treatment sites.
Native plants were placed in easily recognizable groups to help with future maintenance efforts. Three inches of mulch was placed over the facility to prevent weeds, filter pollutants, and make a clear edge to the facility. After visiting the facility in the spring of 2012, DEP observed that the new plants are growing well and the facility is functioning as designed.
DEP’s Stormwater Facility Maintenance Program works with citizens to assume responsibility for structural maintenance for all new residential stormwater facilities as well as older facilities draining residential property once the property owner has completed a maintenance transfer process.
It is vital that the stormwater facilities be properly maintained in working order so they function as intended, providing protection and stormwater management for our parks, schools, and businesses.