Property Owner Compliance Services
You’ve Received a Stormwater Feature Re-Permit Notice, What Next?
1) Know what the notice means and why you got it.
You received a re-permitting notice because somewhere on your property there is a permanent stormwater quality control feature(s). This includes any permanent device, structure or Best Management Practice (BPM) used to eliminate or reduce pollution discharged into your community's storm drainage system. The EPA, as as well as local regulatory agencies, require that all permanent stormwater features be re-permitted yearly. Your permit has expired.
2) Know why you should re-permit?
Stormwater Quality (SWQ) permitting regulations exist to improve water quality and to minimize negative impacts of development on our watersheds. Without these programs, the effects that a growing community creates would have a devastating impact on our region’s already impaired rivers, streams, bayous, bays, ocean and aquifers. Harris County and the City of Houston each have a set of regulations regarding stormwater management obligations that must be met by property owners.
The humanitarian reasons:
- Ensures that your stormwater quality feature is operating properly and at peak performance
- Reduces risk that your stormwater feature will attribute to flooding in your area and "downstream"
- Reduces risk that your stormwater feature will attribute to waterways pollution (e.g. gas, grease, oil, chemicals, animal feces, plastic, metal, etc...)
- Reduces risk that your stormwater feature will attribute to drinking water pollution (i.e. water that soaks into the ground and recharges your local aquifer)
The financial reasons:
- The price of regular permitting and maintenance is just a fraction of the cost it will be to replace or repair a broken or run-down stormwater feature
- If the SWQ Permit is not renewed annually prior to its expiration, the property owner is considered out of compliance and subject to costly fees
3) Know what stormwater feature you need to re-permit.
Your re-permit notice should include all the important information you need to know in order to identify the feature needing re-permitting. In the event it does not, your property's SWQMP (Stormwater Quality Management Plan) civil drawings will. Every property that has a permanent stormwater quality feature also has a SWQMP filed with the county. Your feature's SWQMP was produced and signed by the civil engineer in charge of the feature's installation and was included in the civil design package which was submitted to the city or county for approval prior to construction. These records are kept by the local regulatory agencies (e.g. The Harris County Engineering Department) and are available by the public for review.
While most features are above ground and easy to spot, know that some are underground. Stormwater Oil / Grit / Trash Separators are underground tanks that filter sediment and hydrocarbons from stormwater prior to discharge into the city / county storm sewer system. They range in size from 500-12,000 gallons, with size being determined by engineering calculations based on local regulations. Larger properties with more treated area typically have larger tanks while smaller properties and existing properties with newly developed areas will have smaller ones.
Common permanent stormwater quality features:
- Dry Ponds
- Wet Ponds
- Sand Filters
- Floatables Collection Screens
- Vegetative Area (swales/filter strips)
- Proprietary Systems (Hydrodynamic Separators, Water Quality Inlet Inserts)
- Constructed Wetlands
- Low Impact Development Features
- Oil / Grit / Trash Separators
4) Know how to get the stormwater feature inspected.
Once you know what feature(s) needs re-permitting, it will need to be inspected in order to find out whether its in good condition and can be re-permitted. You can do this yourself, but doing so will require some understanding of the feature including operation, function, and maintenance. Most often, property owners will choose to contact a stormwater inspections and re-permitting company like Construction EcoServices to perform the inspection. An inspector will be sent to your property to perform a field inspection to ascertain your feature's condition and functionality.
For ponds, the trash rack or riser pipe must be free of debris and excessive sediment. Excessive vegetation must be removed; allowing proper flow to the pond outfall. Check for torn or rusted mesh, clogged riser pipes, and obstructions in the pipe. Ponds in general must be mowed regularly, contain no woody growth, and if they are detention ponds, be free of standing water. If you see cat tails growing in the pond, there may be a grading issue that prevents the pond from draining completely after rain events.
ALL of these issues must be resolved prior to re-permit.
Next the system will need to be certified by a professional engineer (P.E.) who will need to visit the site in order to verify that the system is in place, clean and functioning as specified.
Upon approval, the P.E. will provide a sealed certification document specific to the governing entity which will need to be sent in (original document) along with an Owner’s Affidavit and Permit Application.
Originals need to be sent along with a check for re-permit fees, ideally postmarked prior to the re-permit date. Late fees and penalties may be assessed for late re-permits. Verification of receipt of re-permit documents typically takes 1-2 months and should be received by mail.
Construction EcoServices can provide a one-stop shop for inspecting, repairing, ensuring your feature is in condition to be re-permitted, and signed off on by the P.E.. Once it is, we will prepare the required documents and submit the permit documentation to the proper agencies.
5) Know that your feature should have regular maintenance, especially ponds.
Ponds need regular mowing. Monthly mowing costs about the same as biannual mowing. The longer the grass, the slower it must be mowed; meaning it takes 4 times longer to mow a pond every six months, greatly increasing the cost of maintenance.
Cleanouts are also needed and are typically based on sediment levels that exceed the operating parameters of the feature, forcing the system into by-pass mode. In this mode, contaminated water is discharged from your site.
If the sediment levels have reached or exceeded manufacturer’s guidance, you will need a licensed contractor to pump out and remove all sediment and water from the tank.
This material must all be disposed of at a licensed sanitary collection facility, and disposal manifest must be provided. This manifest must be submitted with re-permit documents to the permitting authority.
The requirements for your system should be found in your site’s stormwater quality management plan, but unfortunately they are often confusing and difficult to determine. If you are unclear about your specific requirements, feel free to contact us for help.
6) Know we are here to help you.
We offer a FREE inspection - so you have nothing to loss. In addition, all of the stormwater quality services are provided by Construction EcoServices in accordance with City of Houston and Harris County Stormwater Regulations.