Stormwater Management System:  Who's Responsible?

Surface water management facilities, such as ponds, ditches and swales, are constructed to trap and filter out pollutants in stormwater runoff from roads, parking lots, buildings and lawns.  Discharge of untreated water to natural lakes, creeks, and rivers is harmful to natural vegetation and wildlife; this destroys one of the very things we like best about Florida — our enjoyment of the abundant clean water for recreation and aesthetic enjoyment.

The purpose of the information provided in the following sections is to provide the entity/permittee responsible for the operation and maintenance of the Stormwater Management System (SWMS) with guidelines for establishing a program of routine maintenance procedures, which should minimize problems and maximize the appearance and performance of a SWMS.

Typically, site developers are responsible for operation and maintenance until construction is complete, then they are required by a permit condition to transfer this responsibility to the property owner, a homeowners’ association, a condominium owners’ association, or a property owners’ association.  After an association is legally established and construction of the surface water management system is completed, the association will assume responsibility.  The operation and maintenance entity for shopping centers, individual stores, offices, and other types of businesses typically is the landowner or a management company hired by the landowner.

Your SWMS is designed and constructed to comply with certain environmental protection criteria.  Stormwater ponds and their associated surface water management facilities are designed to capture and remove pollutants from specific volumes of stormwater runoff through processes such as percolation, filtering, and/or detention.  As long as they are constructed properly and maintained in an effective state, water quality standards are presumed to be met.

Stormwater management systems should be inspected on a routine basis to ensure that they are functioning properly. Inspections should be scheduled on a monthly or quarterly basis and following any major rain event.  More frequent inspections may be necessary during the rainy season.  Keeping detailed notes on maintenance activities will help when providing a report to SWFWMD at the time of your 18-, 24-, or 60-month inspection.  Your Environmental Resource Permit (ERP) or Management and Storage of Surface Waters (MSSW) permit includes a condition that specifies how often the inspection reports are due.

It would be wise to designate one individual as the person responsible for overseeing operation and maintenance activities, monitoring and reporting.  This will allow that individual to become well acquainted with the SWMS.  Provide this person with a copy of the permit and SWFWMD-approved construction drawings should questions or issues develop.

* The information on this page is quoted from SWFWMD's pamphlet, "How to Operate & Maintain Your Stormwater Management System", VISKH0003 (8/03).  Use this link to download a PDF of the complete pamphlet from SWFWMD's website: .