6.2 Stormwater Management Practice Inspection Guidance
As a part of the compliance obligations under agreements with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP), the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) is required to periodically inspect all stormwater management practices (SMPs) installed on private properties. Inspections will generally occur during normal business hours. During an inspection, PWD inspectors check to see that SMPs are being maintained in accordance with the Approved Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan (PCSMP) and Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Agreement (Section 6.1.2) and that all SMPs are functioning as designed. If PWD inspections reveal that an SMP is not functioning properly, PWD will notify the property owner and they will be required to bring the SMP back into compliance. If the property owner is not responsive to such notice, PWD may proceed with elevated enforcement measures, including fines, court action, and/or abatement proceedings. The property owner can avoid enforcement by implementing a robust SMP maintenance program as early as possible.
Frequent SMP inspections performed by the property owner are critical to identifying and remediating small maintenance issues before they have the potential to become large, costly repairs. Routine inspections should be performed by the property owner at least four times per year, preferably at the end of each season. Property owners, or individuals conducting inspections on the property owner’s behalf, must have a strong working knowledge and understanding of each SMP and its critical design components prior to conducting inspections (Chapter 4). Property owners should perform additional inspections throughout the year, especially during and after large rain events, to ensure that SMPs are functioning as designed.
The primary purpose of an inspection is to make sure an SMP is properly functioning and, if not, to identify corrective actions that are required to restore proper function. A properly functioning SMP allows water to freely enter at each inflow point, collect within the storage areas, infiltrate into the soil or, depending on the design, freely drain through an outlet control structure to a downstream conveyance system. During inspections, owners are to note the following conditions:
- Emergency spillways and overflows are clear of debris;
- Plants within properly functioning SMPs are healthy and thriving;
- Bare soil or areas of active erosion are not present;
- Structures appear to be sound and in good condition, with no signs of settlement; and
- Storage areas are slowly draining after significant rain events (in no more than 72 hours) and are free of significant accumulations of sediment, debris, and trash that would substantially reduce the available storage volume.
If any of these conditions are not true, maintenance is most likely required. More detailed information on conducting inspections for different SMP types is found in Chapter 4 within each SMP section.
Owners should note that proper and thorough inspection may require special certifications for confined space entry and/or special equipment such as closed circuit television systems required to inspect pipes. It is the property owner’s responsibility to make sure that all inspections are conducted in a safe manner, according to applicable regulations, and using appropriate equipment.