Five-year Recertification for Long-term Maintenance of Stormwater Management Systems

For questions regarding the five-year recertification process, please contact one of our environmental engineers in the region where your project is located:

Each year, the DEP reviews more than one hundred land development projects and approves new stormwater treatment systems per the stormwater management rules (Chapter 500). A long-term inspection and maintenance plan is reviewed and approved for these systems to ensure their proper operation. Late 2005, Chapter 500 was revised to require the permittees perform a “check-up” on their stormwater systems and recertify that the systems are operating as approved every five years from the issuance date of their permit.

Every year, the DEP notifies permittees whose projects are up for recertification and educates the property owners, facilities managers, homeowners’ associations as they respond to the recertification inquiries. You can help the DEP to make sure that well-maintained stormwater treatment systems keep the pollutants away from our waters:

  • If you have a DEP Stormwater or Site Law permit issued in or after 2006: Please make sure the approved stormwater management inspection and maintenance plan is followed. Inspect your stormwater system and submit the five-year recertification paperwork.
  • If you plan on purchasing a property with existing development: The property may already have a DEP Stormwater or Site Law permit. If so, make sure that the seller maintained and recertified the stormwater management system per the permit conditions. You will also need to apply for a permit transfer and assume the inspection and maintenance requirements.

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Five-year Recertification Steps for the Stormwater and Site Law Permits

  1. Locate the permit and plans:
    • Permit: You can find the type and number of the stormwater control measures (e.g. buffers, detention basins, wetponds, soil filters, proprietary devices) approved for your project under Stormwater Standards or Stormwater Management section of your permit.
    • Site Plan: If you have the an “as-built” site plan for your project, please use it for the stormwater management system inspection. Otherwise, you can use the site plan approved by the Department for the stormwater system inspection. The site plans are plan view (bird’s eye view) technical drawings of the project, typically signed and sealed by a licensed professional engineer or a professional licensed surveyor.
    • Stormwater Inspection & Maintenance Plan: Every project approved by the Department has a long-term (post-construction) stormwater management inspection and maintenance plan. The applicant or owner is responsible for carrying out the plan. The plans are typically a few pages long documents stating the inspection frequency of each stormwater management system component and associated maintenance tasks. Some plans also have sample inspection and maintenance logs and checklists.
      Minimum inspection and maintenance requirements (generic inspection and maintenance plan)(Design Manual Chapter 11).
  2. Inspect the project site for areas of erosion:Some of the projects that are up for five-year recertification do not have a stormwater management system approved by the Department. These project sites will only be inspected for erosion areas:
    • Walk the project site and inspect the vegetated areas (particularly slopes and embankments):
      • Are there bare spots, areas with sparse vegetation growth?
      • Is there rill erosion, slumping?
    • Take representative photos during the inspection (Attach dated photos to the recertification form).
  3. Inspect all aspects of the stormwater control system:Stormwater control system refers to all structures and measures that capture, convey, and treat the stormwater within the project site. Basic elements of the recertification inspection are given below for informational purposes. Please note that this information is not a substitute for the post-construction inspection and maintenance plan, which must be executed by the owner/permittee through the lifetime of the project.
    • Walk the project site and inspect all the following, if applicable:
      • Ditches, swales, open stormwater channels:
        • Is there any sign of erosion on the side slopes and bottom of the channel?
        • Is there sediment, debris, and trash accumulation?
        • Is there woody vegetation growth within the channel?
        • Is the channel lining (e.g. riprap) intact?
      • Culverts:
        • Is there any erosion at the culvert inlet and outlet?
        • Is there sediment, debris, and trash accumulation inside the culvert, around the culvert inlet and outlet?
        • Is there woody vegetation growth at the inlet and outlet?
      • Catch Basins:
        • Is there sediment, debris, floatable material accumulation in the catch basin?
        • Does the catch basin have a skimmer, adsorptive pads for oil removal that needs to be replaced?
      • Vegetated Stormwater Buffers (Design Manual Chapter 5): These can be meadow or forested areas protected by deed restrictions to treat the project’s stormwater.
        • Is there evidence of erosion and concentrated flow (channels, drainages) within the buffer area?
        • Is there woody vegetation growth on the level spreader?
        • Is there erosion downhill the level spreader?
        • Is there sedimentation in the level spreader?
      • Wetponds (Design Manual Chapter 4), Dry Detention Basins (Design Manual Chapter 3): Wetponds are designed to have a year-round permanent pool. The detention basins are designed to temporarily store runoff for reducing the peak flows and remain empty during dry weather.
        • Are the embankments, outlet structure, emergency spillway in good condition?
        • Is there sediment accumulation around the inlet and outlet?
        • Is there woody vegetation growth on the embankments, inlet, and outlet areas?
      • Vegetated Soil Filters: These filters are typically vegetated with grass and equipped with underdrains, which are called grassed underdrained soil filters (GUSFs) (Design Manual Chapter 7.1). The Department also permits filters vegetated with shrubs and perennials, which are called bioretention cells or filters (Design Manual Chapter 7.2).
        • Are the embankments, outlet structure, overflow spillway in good condition?
        • Is there woody vegetation growth inside the filter or around the inlet and outlet?
        • Is the filter sparsely vegetated?
        • Is there sediment accumulation around the filter inlet or over the filter media?
      • Permeable Pavement and Pavers (Design Manual Chapter 7.7): Porous asphalt, porous concrete, and pavers are typically permitted to treat the stormwater from parking lots, driveways, and walkways.
        • Is the permeable surface slowly draining or clogged? (You can test the drainage rate by applying water on these surfaces)
        • Is the surface intact, free of damage?
      • Proprietary Systems: These are manufactured systems that can be under or over the ground. They must be inspected and maintained per the manufacturer’s instructions. The Department requires the permittees to execute five-year maintenance contracts for these systems.
    • Take representative photos during the inspection (Attach photos with descriptive captions to the recertification form).
  4. Perform the maintenance and repair: Issues noted during the inspection must be addressed per the maintenance plan approved for the project. See typical maintenance tasks (Design Manual Chapter 11). Typically, sediment and woody vegetation removal, seeding and loaming, revegetation, sweeping are done as a result of the recertification inspections.
    • Take photos of the maintenance and repair work (Attach photos with descriptive captions to the recertification form).
    • If you have not already done so, start a maintenance log.
  5. Submit the Recertification Paperwork:
    • Fill out and sign the two-page five-year recertification form,
    • Attach the inspection, maintenance, and repair photos,
    • Attach a detailed inspection & maintenance report (if available),
    • Provide a copy of the maintenance contract (if applicable),
    • Send the materials to the address provided in recertification form. Electronic submission via e-mail is preferred

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Proprietary Systems Requiring Five-year Maintenance Contract

The Department has an approval program for the proprietary systems which have been demonstrated to remove the stormwater pollutants. Current list of the approved proprietary systems and their approval letters. The Land Bureau allows the Stormwater and Site Law permit applicants to meet their stormwater treatment requirement using the approved proprietary systems.

Due to their design and structure, the proprietary systems typically need more frequent inspection and maintenance than the non-proprietary treatment measures such as vegetated buffers and soil filters, wetponds. Special equipment such as vac trucks, underground cameras can be required to complete the inspection and maintenance work. For instance, the pre-treatment row of a subsurface sand filter, which can be buried several feet under a parking lot, cannot be inspected properly without a camera. If the inspection indicates sediment accumulation, a vac truck is required for effective removal of the sediment. On the other hand, routine mulch replacement, high-rate filter media and vegetation replenishment can be necessary for the proprietary filter systems installed above the ground.

In order to ensure the proprietary system’s long-term performance, the Department requires the applicants to execute a five-year maintenance contract for their proprietary systems prior to the construction, preferably during the permitting process. The contract must be renewed prior to its expiration.

If you are filling out the five-year recertification form and have any of the proprietary systems, please make sure that you have a valid maintenance contract with a qualified professional covering the proprietary system(s).

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