The “ABC’s of “BMPs”

The “ABC’s of “BMPs”

As a facilities management professional, you are responsible for a vast array of facilities issues. As you look around, it makes sense to question why a pond was built behind the property, why some metal doors are on the surface of the parking lot or why the city has sent a letter regarding stormwater.

Chances are your property has one or more types of stormwater controls.

Speaking the language. Until recently, stormwater systems were called “Stormwater BMPs” aka Stormwater Best Management Practices. Today, however, they’re commonly referred to as “SCMs” or Stormwater Control Measures.

What are SCMs? When natural woodland areas are removed, stormwater runoff from rain or snow melt no longer gets absorbed back into the ground or moved along the surface to streams, rivers and other natural receptors. SCMs are designed to protect property, but because underground stormwater sewers convey stormwater quickly, the remaining natural receptors struggle to sustain the plants, biology and structure critical to survival.

The mission of a “SCM.” SCMs capture a site’s impervious surface runoff slowly and release it over time, like a natural woodland and reduce pollutants.

Why Me? Doesn’t it cost money to own and operate a SCM? The answer is yes, and with many different types of SCMs in service today, creating a SCM budget would need to be site-specific. However, studies have shown the annual cost to maintain a SCM averages between three to five percent of construction cost. This cost includes scheduled routine maintenance, inspections and provides a reserve for non-scheduled services.

What’s a good approach to managing SCM’s? If it’s an existing system, proper maintenance should always be a top priority. For new SCM systems, ensure the builder constructs the system correctly. When purchasing or assuming ownership of property that contains a SCM, have an inspection performed by a licensed engineer with experience evaluating SCM systems.

Responsibility vs. Liability. Stormwater almost always ends up feeding into federally controlled waters. This is why SCM requirements were developed. Violations of the Clean Water Act can cost up to $22,500.00 per day. In the past, many SCM’s have not been maintained or even noticed. Today, federal, state and local governments have increased efforts to identify SCM locations and their owners. The goal is ensuring today’s SCMs are maintained and operated according to original design standards. 

All about maintenance. The best management practice is maintenance. Proper maintenance will increase the system’s life to the 20-year minimum and ensure the SCM is operating as designed. It’s not optional. Identifying a company that specializes in and has experience with SCM inspections, maintenance and repairs is always the best approach.

So, what are the ABC’s of SCM’s?
(A)lways maintain your SCM systems. (B)ecause without it, cost of ownership will increase over the life of the system. (C)aring about the environment is what responsible FM professionals do.

Today, more than ever, clients notice the details and improving the environment never goes unnoticed. Remember, clean water is essential to us all!

 Sandy Baker, Watterson & Mike Brown of BMP Environmental

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Published: December 17, 2018