How to maximize operational efficiency beyond stormwater BMP installation

Discover the relationship between engineers and end users and why operational efficiency beyond stormwater BMP installation is critical for all stakeholders.

The first task for a contractor handing a stormwater best management practice (BMP) over to an owner or end user is to ensure that a management plan for the installation is provided. In some locations, this will be a legal requirement, with the local planning authority taking an active role.

Under the US National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), for example, a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) might be required.

The plan forms the foundation of all subsequent operations and maintenance activity for the site. If the contractor is to provide operations and maintenance services, the plan will be the reference point for those services.

Performance and maintenance

The correct performance is crucial within the site. A manufactured system, for example, may work upstream of a landscaped feature; its performance is critical in order not to compromise the stage downstream.

Certain levels of performance will need to be met to ensure compliance with local water quality regulations. If performance fails and regulations are breached, end users can face fines or legal penalties to the detriment of their business, as well as associated reputational damage.

Maintenance is fundamentally important for ensuring that the stormwater treatment system performs according to its design specifications. The maintenance needs to be allowed for in budgets; anticipated or indicative maintenance costs can be included in the site management plan.

Inspections and routine activities

The maintenance program should include both inspection and maintenance. Inspection should be conducted at appropriate regular intervals. The frequency depends upon what measures have been installed, but is likely to range from monthly up to annually. Inspections can also be made at irregular intervals, such as performing ad hoc checks following significant storm events. 

Inspections during the early life of a site can be particularly important. Inspections should check, for example, for sediment accumulation, or examine filter media to ensure that the treatment system is not being overloaded. The findings of early inspections can be used to set or adjust the future maintenance schedule.

Routine maintenance activities will include tasks such as:

  • Removing trash and debris
  • Inspecting for sediment, oil and grease accumulation
  • Removing sediment, oil, grease and floatables
  • Changing filter media

Treatment systems

Manufactured or proprietary treatment systems should be inspected and maintained according to the documentation provided by the manufacturer. These stormwater BMPs all differ. Where the contractor has sourced the treatment for the client, the contractor should ensure that the correct documentation has been gathered and incorporated into the site management plan.

The BMPs should be cleaned and kept free of fouling. Functional elements such as filter media should be replaced according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer. The contractor should also look for any signs of deterioration or malfunction.

Any waste material generated during the maintenance should be dealt with appropriately, according to local regulations, and according to procedures set out in the site management plan.

Conclusion

Overall, the contractor responsible for undertaking maintenance should work according to the site management plan. This should be backed up by appropriate documentation, signed where necessary, such as recording details of all site visits, any maintenance requirements identified during inspections, and any maintenance undertaken. The management process should also include a periodic review of the plan itself.

The contractor responsible for site maintenance and operational efficiency can also ensure individual operators receive suitable training and are certified as appropriate. The site may include a number of treatment measures designed to work together to achieve the overall performance needed, meaning a wider understanding of surface water management can be valuable in ensuring problems are identified.

Takeaways

Performance and maintenance go hand-in-hand when it comes to stormwater BMP installation. Unless the treatment equipment is looked after regularly and properly, it will not perform to its full potential.

Site inspections should be completed frequently so that realistic maintenance schedules can be set and followed by the site owner.

Where the contractor has sourced the treatment for the client, the contractor should ensure that the correct documentation has been gathered and incorporated into the site management plan.

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