Stormwater 101

Litter in Stream (click to enlarge)

What is Stormwater?
Stormwater runoff occurs when rain and snowmelt flows over land or impervious surfaces (such as streets, parking lots, sidewalks, and rooftops) and does not percolate into the ground. Increases in impervious surface area cause higher flow rates as runoff collects debris, chemicals, oils, sediment and other pollutants that could adversely affect water quality if discharged to the environment without first being treated. Learn about “gross solids”…

Why Treat Stormwater?
Control and treatment of stormwater runoff in the United States was mandated by the Clean Water Act in 1972. The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program requires businesses, states, and municipalities to have programs, practices, and infrastructure in place to control the discharge of pollutants in stormwater. As a result, most sites constructed in the past 20 years include some form of stormwater treatment.

Detention Basin Inflow During Rain (click to enlarge)

How is Stormwater Managed?
Controlling and treating runoff is known as stormwater management. While there are many different types of facilities used to control stormwater, two broad categories are Above Ground and Below Ground. Above Ground facilities include basins, dry ponds, wet ponds, sand filters, bioretention, swales, etc. Below Ground facilities are usually unseen and may be underground pipe storage systems, oil/water separators, sand filters, vaults, or they may be proprietary devices for separating, filtering, or storing stormwater.

Check out this great Stormwater 101 video:

Details, Details, Details

Keep reading for specifics on how to ensure stormwater facilities are performing as intended.


One of the most important – and simplest – tasks that is needed to ensure stormwater facilities are functioning is to inspect it:

  • Inspections help to identify maintenance issues.  This ensures that proper routine maintenance procedures are put in place.
  • Inspections catch small problems before they become larger (and more expensive) problems.
  • Our inspections include photo documentation in a consise, understandable format that includes recommendations.  Simple is better!  Digital delivery ensures easy filing and sharing.

We suggest annual inspections for owners to ensure they are in compliance with regulations and to avoid surprises when municipalities perform 3- or 5-year inspections.

Click here to learn more about our inspection services.

Clogged Lowflow (click to enlarge)


Routine maintenance improves aesthetics, reduces long-term costs, and avoids costly surprises.

  • Maintenance of above-ground facilities targets common problems such as erosion, burrowing rodents and vegetation management before they become major construction projects.
  • Sediment, litter and debris should be regularly cleaned to avoid clogging of infrastructure.  Clogged pipes set up a chain reaction of sedimentation that significantly complicates remediation and drives up costs.
  • Routine maintenance reduces expensive repairs and helps meet regulatory obligations BEFORE a Notice of Violation is sent.

Depending on the type of facility, we recommend up to 4 times annually.  Some may be less, some more frequent.  Click here for more information on our maintenance services.  

We combine Inspections and maintenance into a simple, no-hassle and cost-effective program called StormCare.  Click here for more on StormCare.


Repair work may be necessary if:

  • A facility has been neglected for too long.  This can get very expensive.  Once this happens, most learn from the mistake of ignoring their stormwater facilities and begin routine maintenance.
  • Damage occurs due to a large storm event(s).  Our StormCare program assures you have a resource when storm damage or emergency situations arise.
  • A facility was designed or constructed poorly.  This happens more often than many think and is often discovered years after construction.  Our in-house engineering helps facilitate economical design/build corrections in these situations.
  • Materials have degraded over time, reaching their lifecycle.  While this is common for some materials, such as metal pipes, there are several different remediation methods.  Some can save money, and some are a waste.  We do these repairs every day and know the best approach to save money while ensuring long-term reliability.
  • Our in-house civil engineers design and prepare plans for major repairs.  Importantly, we know when full plans are needed and when money and time can be saved by a more efficient design/build approach.

Underground Detention Facility (click to enlarge)

Underground Structures

Maybe you know it is there – maybe not!  Underneath a manhole could be a stormwater facility as big as a football field!

Many intensely developed areas, such as commercial developments or office buildings, manage their stormwater with underground structures.  These structures are expensive to maintain because accumulated pollutants must be removed with a vac truck.  As there are many different types of underground facilities that have variable maintenance requirements, it is important to select a maintenance contractor that understands what typoe of facility exists and how it is intended to operate.  Inspections by qualified personnel BEFORE maintenance can save thousands of dollars by determining if maintenance is even required – before the expensive machinery is mobilized.

Click here to learn more about our vac truck services.