Water Management FAQ: Maximizing stormwater BMP lifetime and operating efficiency

Hydro International experts address the questions you want answered. This month, we’re talking maximizing stormwater BMP operating efficiency and system lifetime.

What are the key steps in maximizing system lifetime and operating efficiency?

When it comes to stormwater best management practices (BMPs), performance and maintenance are absolutely essential. They should be the hook of every stage of a project, from planning right through to renewals. The correct performance is crucial within the site and if certain levels of performance can’t be met, compliance with local water quality regulations is likely to fall short.

Maintenance goes hand in hand with performance. Without regular visibility, maintenance and access to the system, a treatment system is unlikely to perform fully according to its design specifications. Maintenance of products, whether that’s solids removal or repairs for general wear and tear, need to be accounted for at the specification stage and they must also inform the cost for the solution.

How can maintenance be the downfall of a project?

For engineers and contractors, product lifetime, operating efficiency and general upkeep will often by at the forefront of their strategy. However, a site owner is unlikely to have this at the top of their priority list. 

From an owner’s perspective, they want a project that will fulfil its task as part of the wider view of their operation. They need to meet their strategic goals and have the confidence that the products within their water management systems will run successfully at all times. As a result, consultants and design engineers need to deliver a project that fulfills its task both at the time of commissioning and over a much longer timescale.

Without maintenance, however, stormwater BMPs can clog or otherwise become ineffective, and the system fails over the long term. 

What should I consider pre-project to maximize operating efficiency?

Maintenance is often thought of as being post-project, but engineers and contractors need to keep operating efficiency and product lifetimes in mind from the very start. Good project operation and easy maintenance begins with design and is determined by all decisions made early in the project.

Regulatory requirements will be a primary driver in setting the end goals for a project. For stormwater projects this might include water quantity and quality requirements for the project area, accounting for a certain selection of storm return periods. The initial design needs to bring all these aspects together in the package of measures for a site, taking account of any intermediate water quality requirements.

How should contractors carry out maintenance to the benefit of the owner’s business?

Responsibility for operation and maintenance of a surface water treatment project is ultimately with the site owner, however consultations and design engineers who deliver the project need to share the right information at the point of project handover. Site plans governing the operation and maintenance of the surface water management system are an essential tool for the owner, engineer and contractor alike.

This plan should form part of a handover, giving owners a step-by-step guide to maximizing operating efficiency and product lifetime. The plan should include maintenance requirements for component parts, schedules for inspections and site visits and how to report and record repairs.

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