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Keywords:

  • Stormwater;
  • maintenance;
  • BMPs

Abstract:

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract:
  3. Survey Results and Discussion
  4. Conclusion
  5. Acknowledgements
  6. Author Bios and Contact Information
  7. References

Maintenance is imperative to preserve performance and extend useable life of stormwater treatment practices. Increased attention to mass balance, numerical goals, total maximum daily loads (TMDLs), and antidegradation requirements has created the need for more emphasis on stormwater treatment practice maintenance in order to meet permitting and reporting requirements. The purpose of this paper is to advance short and long-term maintenance considerations so as to develop more realistic maintenance plans. To do so, a municipal public works survey was developed, distributed, and the results were analyzed. The results of the survey revealed that most (61 percent) cities and counties perform routine maintenance once or more per year. Complexity of maintenance is most often minimal or simple, but is more complicated for constructed wetlands, soil/sand filters, and permeable pavement. The most common causes of required maintenance are sediment buildup and litter/debris. Survey results for maintenance cost compare well with data gathered from a national literature review.

Maintenance for stormwater treatment practices is the purposeful management of a practice so as to preserve a desired level of performance and efficiency and extend useable life. It's practices consists of short-term (routine and more frequent), long-term (non-routine and often less frequent), and major (rare) actions (Figure 1).

image

Figure 1. Stormwater treatment practice maintenance pyramid.

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Performance longevity of stormwater treatment practices from their creation (design and construction) through operation is dependent on maintenance actions. Because maintenance involves a significant amount of resources (personnel, equipment, materials, sediment disposal expense, etc.), it is important to understand maintenance effort, frequency, and cost to efficiently allocate those resources. The purpose of this paper is to advance short and long-term maintenance considerations so as to develop more realistic maintenance plans. A municipal public works survey was developed, distributed, and the results were analyzed to achieve this purpose.

The specific goals of the survey were to identify and inventory stormwater treatment practice maintenance efforts and costs. Survey responses were received from 28 Minnesota cities, 8 Wisconsin cities, and 2 Wisconsin counties. The survey included questions on the following topics:

  • • 
    Types of stormwater treatment practices in watersheds.
  • • 
    Frequency of stormwater treatment practices inspected or maintained.
  • • 
    Average staff-hours spent per regular inspection/maintenance.
  • • 
    Complexity of stormwater treatment practice maintenance.
  • • 
    Factors that most frequently cause reduced performance in stormwater treatment practices.
  • • 
    Costs for non-routine maintenance activities.

The questions for the survey were chosen to reflect key parameters necessary to reasonably budget and schedule inspection and maintenance. These factors will vary based upon stormwater treatment practice design, climate conditions, stormwater treatment practice accessibility, desired level of stormwater treatment practice performance, personnel and budgetary constraints, and maintenance strategies (e.g., proactive or reactive).

This survey to define maintenance needs and guidelines was conducted by the University of Minnesota through work funded by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Through this effort the University of Minnesota published the manual, “Stormwater Treatment: Assessment and Maintenance” (Gulliver et al. 2010) that includes assessment techniques for source reduction and stormwater treatment practices using four levels of assessment from visual inspection to state-of-the-art monitoring and maintenance recommendations. The manual is available online at http://stormwater.safl.umn.edu.

Survey Results and Discussion

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract:
  3. Survey Results and Discussion
  4. Conclusion
  5. Acknowledgements
  6. Author Bios and Contact Information
  7. References

Number and Type of Stormwater Treatment Practices

As listed in Table 1, most cities in Minnesota and Wisconsin have at least one wet pond, and most of the cities with wet ponds have more than 20 wet ponds in their jurisdiction and one third have filter strips or swales. Most cities also have less than five of most other stormwater treatment practices although nearly half of the respondents have more than five underground sedimentation practices.

Table 1.  Number and type stormwater treatment practices in select Minnesota and Wisconsin municipalities.
 Number of Responses
   1–56–1011–2020
Stormwater Treatment Practice (STP) TypeTotalNoneSTPsSTPsSTPsSTPs
Surface Sand or Soil Filter29223211
Underground Filtration Devices30194511
Infiltration Basins or Trenches311011325
Permeable Pavements321516100
Wet Ponds35164420
Dry Ponds32514526
Underground Sedimentation Devices31106627
Rain Gardens34716443
Constructed Wetlands31126526
Filter Strips or Swales30881310

Inspection Frequency

The frequency and associated staff-hours of stormwater treatment practice maintenance are two key parameters necessary to reasonably budget and schedule inspection and maintenance. As listed in Table 2, the majority (61 percent) of cities conduct routine maintenance actions once or more per year. Surface filters, wet and dry ponds, and filter strips or swales have required less frequent maintenance. Inspection frequency varies significantly due to stormwater treatment practice accessibility and management strategy (proactive vs. reactive).

Table 2.  Frequency of routine inspection and maintenance activities.
Stormwater Treatment Practice TypeNumber of Responses (n)Less than once (percent)Once per year (percent)More than once (percent)
Surface Sand or Soil Filter967330
Underground Filtration Devices944560
Infiltration Basins or Trenches19216811
Permeable Pavement14294329
Wet Ponds3253443
Dry Ponds2752480
Underground Sedimentation Devices17125929
Rain Gardens22234136
Constructed Wetlands1638566
Filter Stripes or Swales13543115
Average 394813

Staff Hours

For most stormwater treatment practices, staff-hours per activity range from 1 to 4 hours as listed in Table 3. Constructed wetlands and rain gardens may require more staff-hours (typically between 1 and 16 hours) for inspection and maintenance because vegetation management can be significant in these practices.

Table 3.  Staff-hours spent on rountine maintenance actions.
Stormwater Treatment Practice TypeNumber of ResponsesMax. Hours75th %tileMedian25th %tileMinimum Hours
Surface Sand or Soil Filter73210.50.5
Underground Filtration Devices753.510.750.5
Infiltration Basins or Trenches1760210.50.5
Permeable Pavements964210.5
Wet Ponds241203.5210.5
Dry Ponds195210.50.5
Underground Sedimentation Devices1436031.2510.5
Rain Gardens138016110.5
Constructed Wetlands14609.51.510
Filter Strips or Swales11301.7510.50.5

Maintenance Complexity

For most stormwater treatment practice types, respondents indicated that maintenance was minimal or simple (i.e., stormwater professional is occasionally needed), as listed in Table 4. Maintenance was viewed as moderate to complex most often for constructed wetlands (47 percent), sand or soil filters (38 percent), and permeable pavements (37 percent). Permeable pavements are fairly new in Minnesota and Wisconsin, which may explain the more frequent requirement for evaluation by stormwater professionals.

Table 4.  *Complexity of maintenance activites.
Stormwater Treatment Practice typeNumber of Responses (n)Maintenance Complexity* (percent of responses)
  MinimalSimpleModerateComplex
  1. *Maintenance Complexity is defined as:

  2. Minimal-stormwater professional or consultant is seldom needed.

  3. Simple- stormwater professional or consultant is need about half of the time.

  4. Moderate- stormwater professional or consultant is needed about half of hte time.

  5. Complicated-stormwater professional or consultant is always needed.

Surface Sand or Soil Filter86302513
Underground Filtration Devices1050201020
Infiltration Basins or Trenches1833441111
Permeable Pavements164419316
Wet Ponds27632647
Dry Ponds25722404
Underground Sedimentation Devices164431619
Rain Gardens224132918
Constructed Wetlands154013407
Filter Strips or Swales14642907
Average 51241411

Factors Reducing Stormwater Treatment Practice Performance

One of the key purposes of maintenance for stormwater treatment practices is to preserve performance for capturing pollutants or reducing runoff volume or rates. Stormwater treatment practice performance can be reduced by many factors including sediment buildup, litter and debris, or pipe clogging, thus requiring the need for maintenance. The factors listed most frequently for reducing performance in stormwater treatment practices are listed in Table 5. Sediment buildup and litter & debris accumulation were reported as the most frequent factors reducing performance for most stormwater treatment practices. Pipe clogging was reported frequently for wet ponds and dry ponds while invasive vegetation was reported frequently for dry ponds, constructed wetlands, rain gardens, filter strips, and swales.

Table 5.  Percentage of respondents who indicated the listed factors for most frequently reducing performance in stormwater treatment practices. Thumbnail image of

Maintenance Costs

Maintenance for sediment removal, converted to an annual cost, was the most reported and costly maintenance activity. There was also considerable variation in the maintenance costs, as illustrated in Figure 2 for sediment removal. The highest median sediment removal costs were for permeable pavement ($1,700/yr) and underground sedimentation devices ($1,000/yr).

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Figure 2. Annual cost of sediment removal for stormwater treatment practices.

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Literature values of annual maintenance expenses as a function of construction costs are available for dry ponds, wet ponds, constructed wetlands, rain gardens, sand filters, and grassed/vegetative swales (Weiss et al. 2005; USEPA 1999), as listed in Table 6. Other analyses (Landphair et al. 2000; Wossink and Hunt 2003) have shown that the range for annual maintenance costs can be larger than those recommended by the U.S. EPA (1999). Maintenance cost data from respondents in Wisconsin correlate well with maintenance data reported by Weiss et al. (2005, 2007), as shown in Figure 3.

Table 6.  Expected (U.S. EPA 1999) and reported (Weiss et al. 2005) annual maintenance cost as a percent of total construction cost for several stormwater treatment practices.
Stormwater Treatment Practice TypeUSEPA Percentages (1999)Weiss et al. Percentages (2005)
Sand Filters11–130.9 – 9.5
Infiltration Trenches5 – 205.1 – 126.0
Infiltration Basins1 – 102.8 – 4.9
Wet PondsNot reported1.9 – 10.2
Dry Pondsless than 11.8 – 2.7
Rain Gardens5 – 70.7 – 10.9
Constructed Wetlands24.0 – 14.2
Swales5 – 74.0 – 178.0
Filter Strips$320/Acre (maintained)
image

Figure 3. Predicted annual life-cycle maintenance costs as a function of total construction costs in 2005 U.S. dollars for wet ponds (Weiss et al. 2005, 2007).

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Maintenance costs are a substantial portion of life-cycle stormwater treatment practice costs Weiss et al. 2005, 2007). For all practices with the exception of rain gardens, maintenance costs exhibited an economy of scale in that maintenance

for more expensive practices cost less as a fraction of construction cost than less expensive (i.e., smaller) practices. As shown in Figure 3, the annual predicted maintenance cost is roughly eight percent of total construction costs for wet ponds that cost $10,000 (2005 dollars) to construct. Therefore, maintenance cost for these stormwater treatment practices will roughly equal total construction cost after 12 years (in constant dollars). Similarly, for wet ponds that cost $100,000 (2005 dollars) to construct, annual maintenance cost is roughly four percent and will roughly equal total construction cost for these practices after 25 years (in constant dollars). These values (8 percent annual maintenance for $10,000 construction cost in 2005 dollars and four percent annual maintenance for $100,000 construction cost in 2005 dollars) are similar for most stormwater treatment practices reported by Weiss et al. (2005, 2007). This estimation can be used as a general rule of thumb when planning, designing, and budgeting for installation and maintenance of stormwater treatment practices.

Conclusion

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract:
  3. Survey Results and Discussion
  4. Conclusion
  5. Acknowledgements
  6. Author Bios and Contact Information
  7. References

Many communities are struggling to define stormwater treatment practice maintenance needs without readily available guidelines. As a step towards providing this information, a survey of cities was conducted to quantify the typical frequency of inspection, level of effort, factors reducing performance, and maintenance complexity. In addition, survey results for maintenance cost for sediment removal from wet ponds was compared to maintenance cost previously reported in the literature.

The results of the survey revealed that most (61 percent) cities in Minnesota and Wisconsin perform routine maintenance once or more per year. Complexity of maintenance is most often minimal or simple, but is more complicated for constructed wetlands, soil/sand filters and permeable pavements. The most common causes of reduced performance are sediment buildup and litter/debris for stormwater treatment practices.

Maintenance cost is a substantial portion of life-cycle cost for all stormwater treatment practices and requires serious consideration. As a general rule-of-thumb, maintenance cost for stormwater treatment practices will roughly equal the construction cost (in constant dollars) after 12 years for a $10,000 installation and 25 years for a $100,000 installation (2005 dollars).

Acknowledgements

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract:
  3. Survey Results and Discussion
  4. Conclusion
  5. Acknowledgements
  6. Author Bios and Contact Information
  7. References

This study was performed as part of the research project “Stormwater Treatment: Assessment and Maintenance” funded by Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The authors thank Lisa Thorvig, Roger Karn, David Liebl, and Don Jakes for their support of this work. The authors are also grateful to the cities and counties for responding to our survey and providing information related to their experience with stormwater treatment practices: Minnesota: Albert Lea, Andover, Blaine, Bloomington, Buffalo, Burnsville, Chaska, Duluth, Faribault, Forest Lake, Hastings, Hermantown, Lakeville, Lauderdale, Little Canada, Marshall, Mendota Heights, Moorhead, North St. Paul, Plymouth, Prior Lake, Ramsey, Richfield, Rochester, Shakopee, St. Cloud, Stillwater, White Bear Lake; Wisconsin: Beloit, Dunn, Grafton, Green Bay, Milwaukee, River Falls, Sturtevant, Verona, Brown County, Waukesha County. For additional information see: http://stormwater.safl.umn.edu.

Author Bios and Contact Information

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract:
  3. Survey Results and Discussion
  4. Conclusion
  5. Acknowledgements
  6. Author Bios and Contact Information
  7. References

Andrew J. Erickson is a research fellow at St. Anthony Falls Laboratory working on projects related to assessment and maintenance of stormwater treatment practices, developing of new stormwater treatment technologies, and modeling stormwater treatment practices. Mr. Erickson is a registered professional engineer and is an editor and contributing author for the online manual, “Stormwater Treatment: Assessment and Maintenance” and maintains the website, http://stormwater.safl.umn.edu. He is the editor of the University of Minnesota stormwater newsletter, UPDATES, and has co-authored two journal articles, eight conference proceedings, and two reports. He has also provided consulting engineering services for TMDLs, lake management plans, watershed district projects and regulations, and water quality modeling. Mr. Erickson can be contacted at St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota, 2 Third Ave. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55415 or by email at eric0706@umn.edu.

John S. Gulliver is a Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Minnesota, conducting his research at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory. Dr. Gulliver's major research interests include environmental fluid mechanics, mass transport in environmental systems, and flow and mass transport at hydraulic structures. He has recently been working on developing new assessment techniques for water quality performance of stormwater treatment practices, developing methods to retain dissolved contaminants in runoff, and maintenance requirements for stormwater treatment practices. Dr. Gulliver can be contacted at gulli003@umn.edu, or at 500 Pillsbury Drive SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455.

Joo-Hyon Kang is an assistant professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering at Dongguk University-Seoul, Korea. His research interests are on the impact of stormwater runoff and management practices, sustainable land development, and developing watershed management tools for protecting water quality. He is recently working on a Korea's national program of assessing the performance of stormwater best management practices in Han River Basin, Korea. Dr. Joo-Hyon Kang can be contacted at 26, Pil-dong 3-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul 100–715 Korea or by email at joohyon@dongguk.edu.

Peter T. Weiss is an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at Valparaiso University and a registered professional engineer in the state of Indiana. Dr. Weiss’ research interests include the construction and maintenance costs of stormwater treatment practices and optimizing stormwater treatment practice performance. He is an editor and contributing author for the online manual, “Stormwater Treatment: Assessment and Maintenance” and has acted as a consultant for the City of Valparaiso to assess the performance of innovative stormwater management practices within the city. Dr. Weiss can be contacted by email at peter.weiss@valpo.edu.

C. Bruce Wilson is a research scientist for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Stormwater Program. Past efforts have included development of Minnesota lake nutrient standards, municipal wastewater effluent limits, river basin monitoring programs, technical support for many lake and river restoration projects, satellite remote sensing of water quality, and assessing changing climate. He is now working on development of Minnesota's Minimal Impact Design Standards (MIDS) which is focusing on stormwater LID volume control approaches. He can be contacted at bruce.wilson@state.mn.us or at the MPCA, 520 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155–4194.

References

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract:
  3. Survey Results and Discussion
  4. Conclusion
  5. Acknowledgements
  6. Author Bios and Contact Information
  7. References
  • Gulliver, J.S., A.J.Erickson, and P.T.Weiss (editors). 2010. Stormwater Treatment: Assessment and Maintenance. University of Minnesota, St. Anthony Falls Laboratory. Minneapolis , MN . http://stormwaterbook.safl.umn.edu/.
  • Landphair, H. C., J. A. McFalls, and D. Thompson. 2000. Design methods, selections, and cost-effectiveness of stormwater quality structures. Texas Transportation Institute, Texas A&M University System. College Station , TX .
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). 1999. Preliminary data summary of urban stormwater best management practices. EPA-821-R-99-012, Washington, D.C.
  • Weiss, P. T., A. J. Erickson, and J. S. Gulliver. 2007. Cost and pollutant removal of storm-water treatment practices, Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management 133(3): 218229.
  • Weiss, P. T., J. S. Gulliver, and A. J. Erickson. 2005. The cost and effectiveness of stormwater management practices. Minnesota Department of Transportation Report 2005–23. http://www.cts.umn.edu/Publications/ResearchReports/reportdetail.html?id=1023.
  • Wossink, A. and B. Hunt. 2003. The economics of structural stormwater BMPs in North Carolina. Water Resources Research Institute Report Number UNC-WRRI-2003-344. University of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC.