Let’s start by stating what I would consider to be an obvious fact: all Stormwater BMPs require maintenance. Whether we are talking about public domain or manufactured treatment devices, they all need routine maintenance to ensure they operate efficiently over extended periods of time.
Maintenance is defined as the routine recurring work required to keep a stormwater BMP in such condition that it may be continuously used at its original or designed capacity and efficiency for its intended purpose. Maintenance practices are common on important technologies such as HVAC systems or car engines, and the maintenance of stormwater treatment devices should not be overlooked. So how does an owner of a BMP select a stormwater maintenance company? Here are a few items to consider.
Basic Understanding of Stormwater
Understanding the basics of stormwater management should be a minimum requirement for anyone performing maintenance on a BMP that was specifically installed to meet Municipal NPDES stormwater permits. For example, treatment systems operate differently when installed in a treatment train versus as a stand-alone BMP; especially when it comes to maintenance frequencies based on sediment loading. In addition, knowing the bigger picture may help if the site experiences some kind of failure upstream, or downstream, of the BMP being serviced.
All BMPs are different and operate uniquely to the site and conditions in which they are designed. Understanding how and when to conduct inspections and routine maintenance is vital to the long term success of the system, so any person performing these services should be properly trained. Asking for a company to be certified is not uncommon and there are many programs available that offer training on non-proprietary stormwater treatment devices; a simple internet search should be able to identify opportunities in your area. This process is no different for manufactured treatment devices. The manufacturers that developed the technology should offer training and certifications for those who want to inspect and maintain their systems. Manufacturers should also require a recertification process so technological innovations on the product are not overlooked. Simply contact the manufacturer and inquire about any certification training they offer or ask for a list of certified maintenance companies.
There is a wide variety of equipment used to perform maintenance on stormwater BMPs. These can range from a simple hand-held rake to a more complex vacuum truck. Most, if not all, underground systems will require to use of OSHA Confined Space certification and specialized equipment just to make entry. Having the proper equipment to complete the work safely and efficiently will reduce waste and save both time and money on site, so be sure to ask the maintenance company what equipment will be used and if they have the proper safety certifications.
Cost is easily the number one reason why maintenance services are either overlooked or ignored altogether. There are many variables in performing maintenance (location, disposal, equipment, labor), so it is highly recommended that an owner solicits a quote from several companies to ensure they are getting the best service at a reasonable price. It is also a good practice to stay engaged with the maintenance provider during inspections to better understand the current condition of your BMP and properly budget for any work that may be needed in the near future.
A company’s track record on performing maintenance on a particular BMP is something that should not be overlooked. After all, the more you conduct a required service on a system, the more proficient you become at it. Some companies offer additional services that an owner can take advantage of such as preventive maintenance (sweeping a parking lot, cleaning a catch basin or stabilizing a landscaped area) or submitting required municipal documentation after an inspection or maintenance event. Do your research.
Selecting a maintenance company should be an easy and pain-free process. Using the above guidelines will ensure the BMP owner gets a qualified and cost-effective service provider. Good luck!