SPRING-TIME CHECKLIST FOR YOUR STORMWATER FACILITY

Winter can often be very taxing on stormwater facilities for a variety of reasons.  First, these systems are often neglected during the winter months which can result in damages, as well as sediment, trash and debris accumulation. This is not something that should go unnoticed for months at a time.  Secondly, salt and sand are often used on impervious surfaces (roads, sidewalks, driveways, etc.) to assist with traction and ice melt, but when it rains or the snow melts, the salt and sand head directly to your stormwater facility.  Both of these materials cause problems of their own: Salt increases saline levels in the water which poses harm to almost all aquatic life, and sand can transport oils and metals.  Sand accumulation can also cause blockages and malfunction within these systems.  Lastly, due to the natural changing of temperature, we often find that stormwater structures close to ground level experience some type of damage or displacement. 

Now that we know what the issues are heading into the spring, here are some suggestions to improve the function of your facility:

  1. Inspect all inlets and forebays for sediment accumulation.  If present, that material needs to be collected for disposal offsite.
  2. Check the outfall device (Riser, Outlet, or other device that controls the water level in the basin).  Low flow orifices or weirs could be clogged with sticks, mud, trash, or other debris.  These outfall devices are critical to basin performance and should be cleaned monthly.
  3. Check storm drains and storm pipes for any blockages or standing water.  If standing water is found, larger subsurface issues could be present that need to be addressed as soon as possible.
  4. Remove any dead trees and limbs from the basin before they become an issue.
  5. Aerate and overseed the slopes of the basin.  Just like your lawn, a stormwater facility can benefit from this service.  Although applying fertilizer in stormwater facilities is often discouraged, proper application in appropriate circumstances often has desirable effects.  For instance, aerating, overseeding and applying a 10-10-10 fertilizer on a slope that often has a difficult time growing vegetation will certainly improve coverage.  If coverage improves then less sediment will make its way from the slope down into your basin, thus increasing the life span of your facility. 
    1. If you have areas of your basin that have a difficult time growing grass, it is recommended that a soil sample is taken.  State agriculture resources that can study the soil sample are often available free of charge or for a minimal fee.  This is great information because it can indicate the PH levels of the soils in your system.  With that information, you can adjust your approach to the application of any soil amendment.
    2. It’s very important to ensure that no fertilizer is applied to or comes in contact with stormwater.  One of the goals of stormwater management is to remove nutrients from water; not to add them.
  6. Develop a proper maintenance plan that includes monthly visits to the stormwater facility during the growing season, and at least a few during the dormant winter months.

If you need help with any of these steps or would like a professional assessment of your stormwater facility, please reach out to us for a free estimate and consultation.  It would be our pleasure to take a look at your stormwater facilities!

Michael Brewer

Director

Restoration and Recovery