Essential Guide to Stormwater Inspections: Everything You Need to Know

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Stormwater inspections are an essential aspect of maintaining your property and protecting the environment. By scheduling regular inspections and properly maintaining your stormwater system, you can ensure that your property is in compliance with environmental regulations and prevent damage to your property and the surrounding area.

What are Stormwater Inspections?

Stormwater inspections are evaluations of a property's stormwater management system to ensure compliance with environmental regulations. Stormwater runoff can be contaminated with pollutants such as chemicals, sediment, and bacteria, and can have a negative impact on water quality and wildlife. Stormwater inspections help prevent these pollutants from entering the environment. These inspections are typically performed by a qualified inspector who will evaluate your stormwater infrastructure, including drains, pipes, catch basins, and retention ponds.

Types of Stormwater Inspections

There are three main types of stormwater inspections: compliance inspections, routine inspections, and targeted inspections.

Compliance Inspections

Compliance inspections are typically conducted by regulatory agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or local authorities, to ensure that your site is meeting all applicable regulations. These inspections are often scheduled in advance and can cover a broad range of compliance issues, including permit requirements, BMP maintenance, and proper stormwater management practices.

Routine Inspections

Routine inspections are typically conducted by site managers or designated employees to ensure that the site is being properly maintained and that there are no visible signs of pollutants entering the stormwater system. These inspections are typically done on a regular basis and are designed to catch potential issues before they become major problems.

Targeted Inspections

Targeted inspections are conducted when there is a specific concern about stormwater runoff from your site. These inspections may be prompted by a complaint or other issue that requires investigation. They are typically more focused than compliance or routine inspections and may require specific documentation or testing.

Why are Stormwater Inspections Important?

Stormwater runoff can cause significant damage to the environment and infrastructure if it is not managed effectively. Here are some reasons why stormwater inspection is crucial:

  • Preventing flooding: Stormwater can cause flooding if it is not managed effectively, which can lead to property damage and even loss of life.

  • Reducing erosion: Stormwater runoff can cause erosion, which can lead to sedimentation of waterways and loss of habitat for aquatic life.

  • Preventing pollution: Stormwater runoff can carry pollutants such as oil, pesticides, and heavy metals, which can be harmful to human health and the environment.

  • Compliance with regulations: Many municipalities have stormwater management regulations in place, and stormwater inspection ensures compliance with these regulations.

Why are Stormwater Inspections Required?

Stormwater inspections are required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act was passed in 1972 to regulate the discharge of pollutants into US waters. Stormwater is considered a pollutant, and properties that discharge stormwater must have a stormwater management plan in place.

When Should You Schedule a Stormwater Inspection?

The frequency of stormwater inspections depends on your property's location and the regulations in your area. Generally, it's recommended to schedule an inspection at least once a year, but you may need to schedule more frequent inspections if you're in an area with high rainfall or if you've made changes to your stormwater system.

How to Prepare for a Stormwater Inspection?

To prepare for a stormwater inspection, it's essential to have a stormwater management plan in place. This plan should outline how stormwater is managed on your property, including the types of controls in place to prevent pollution. Regular maintenance and inspections of stormwater controls are also important to ensure they are functioning properly.

To ensure a successful stormwater inspection, there are several steps you can take to prepare:

Review Your Stormwater Management Plan

Before the inspection, review your stormwater management plan to ensure that it is up to date and that you are following all applicable regulations.

Check Your BMPs

Inspect all Best Management Practices (BMPs) to ensure that they are functioning properly and that they are being maintained according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

Keep Good Records

Maintain accurate records of all stormwater management activities, including inspections, maintenance, and repairs. These records should be organized and easily accessible to the inspector.

Train Your Staff

Train all employees on stormwater management practices and what to expect during an inspection. This will help ensure that everyone is prepared and knows what to do if an inspector arrives.

Who conducts stormwater inspections?

Stormwater inspections are conducted by qualified inspectors who are trained to assess the effectiveness of stormwater management practices. The inspector must have experience in stormwater management and environmental regulations. Some municipalities require that inspections be performed by a certified professional.

What Happens During a Stormwater Inspection?

During a stormwater inspection, the inspector will evaluate your stormwater system to ensure it's functioning correctly and identify any issues or potential problems. This may include reviewing plans, inspecting stormwater controls, and evaluating water quality. The inspector will also look for any signs of non-compliance with regulations, such as uncovered stormwater drains or improperly stored chemicals.

A stormwater inspection involves several steps, including:

  • Site inspection: An inspector will visit the site to assess the effectiveness of the stormwater management practices in place. This may include an assessment of the drainage system, erosion control measures, and the quality of the discharge.

  • Review of documents: The inspector will review any relevant documents such as stormwater management plans, permits, and monitoring reports to ensure compliance with regulations.

  • Sampling: The inspector may take samples of stormwater runoff to test for pollutants and other contaminants.

  • Report: The inspector will prepare a report outlining any deficiencies and recommendations for improvement.

If deficiencies are found during a stormwater inspection, the municipality will be required to take corrective action to address the issues identified in the inspection report.

Best Practices for Stormwater Management

In addition to complying with regulations and preparing for inspections, there are several best practices that can help minimize the impact of stormwater on the environment. These include:

  • Implementing erosion and sediment controls to prevent soil runoff

  • Using vegetative buffers to filter stormwater and remove pollutants

  • Properly disposing of chemicals and other hazardous materials

  • Regularly maintaining stormwater controls to ensure they are functioning properly

By following these best practices, you can help protect the environment and ensure compliance with stormwater regulations.

Stormwater inspections are an essential part of protecting the environment and complying with regulations. By understanding what they are, why they are required, and how to prepare for them, you can ensure that your property is meeting environmental standards. By following best practices for stormwater management, you can minimize the impact of stormwater on the environment and protect our natural resources. If you have any questions or concerns about stormwater inspections, consult with a professional stormwater inspector or environmental consultant

The material provided in this article is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to replace professional/legal advice or substitute government regulations, industry standards, or other requirements specific to any business/activity. While we made sure to provide accurate and reliable information, we make no representation that the details or sources are up-to-date, complete or remain available. Readers should consult with an industrial safety expert, qualified professional, or attorney for any specific concerns and questions.


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Author: Herbert Post

Born in the Philadelphia area and raised in Houston by a family who was predominately employed in heavy manufacturing. Herb took a liking to factory processes and later safety compliance where he has spent the last 13 years facilitating best practices and teaching updated regulations. He is married with two children and a St Bernard named Jose. Herb is a self-described compliance geek. When he isn’t studying safety reports and regulatory interpretations he enjoys racquetball and watching his favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys.