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Water: Polluted Runoff

Stormwater Control Operation & Maintenance

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The expense of maintaining most stormwater best management practices (BMPs) is relatively small compared to the original construction cost. Too frequently, however, BMP maintenance is not completed, particularly when the BMP is privately owned. Improper maintenance decreases the efficiency of BMPs and can also detract from the aesthetic qualities of the practice. The operation and maintenance language within a stormwater ordinance can ensure that designs facilitate easy maintenance and that regular maintenance activities are completed.

This section includes model ordinance language, which focuses primarily on the maintenance of stormwater BMPs, and includes the elements of design, routine maintenance, and inspections. Stormwater ordinance language regarding the maintenance of erosion control measures would differ slightly from a sediment and erosion control ordinance due to the short-term nature of these measures. In addition, it is important to note that elements such as the process of applying for a permit would be included in more comprehensive sediment and erosion control or stormwater ordinances. Areas where additional information might be useful are indicated with the following symbol:

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This section includes additional materials from localities around the country:


Some important elements of effective stormwater operation and maintenance ordinance language are the specification of a specific entity responsible for long-term maintenance and reference to regular inspection visits. The ordinance should also address design guidelines that can help ease the maintenance burden, such as the inclusion of maintenance easements.

Although language that legally requires operation and maintenance of stormwater BMPs is important, there might be a disjoint between the ordinance language and what happens "on the ground." In this section, the information provided in support of the ordinance, such as maintenance agreements and inspection checklists, is as important as the ordinance to ensuring that stormwater BMPs perform efficiently over time.


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