Information: Information on operation and maintenance of stormwater wetlands has been updated. We recommend you utilize the information on the following page. Eventually, this page will be redirected to the first link above.


Maintenance is necessary for a stormwater wetland to operate as designed on a long-term basis. The pollutant removal, channel protection, and flood control capabilities of stormwater wetlands will decrease if:

  • wetland pool elevations fluctuate dramatically;
  • debris blocks the outlet structure;
  • pipes or the riser are damaged;
  • invasive plants out-compete the wetland plants;
  • sediment accumulates in the stormwater wetland, reducing the storage volume;
  • slope stabilizing and desirable wetland vegetation is lost; or
  • the structural integrity of the embankment, weir, or riser is compromised.

Stormwater wetland maintenance activities range in terms of the level of effort and expertise required to perform them. Routine stormwater wetland maintenance, such as mowing and removing debris or trash, is needed multiple times each year, but can be performed by citizen volunteers. More significant maintenance, such as removing accumulated sediment, is needed less frequently but requires more skilled labor and special equipment. Inspection and repair of critical structural features such as embankments and risers, needs to be performed by a qualified professional (e.g., structural engineer) that has experience in the construction, inspection, and repair of these features.

Design phase maintenance considerations

The following references may be consulted for more information on stormwater wetland maintenance:

Implicit in the design guidance in the previous sections, many design elements of stormwater wetland systems can minimize the maintenance burden and maintain pollutant removal efficiency.

Warning: Primarily, providing easy access (typically 8 feet wide) to stormwater wetlands for routine maintenance is Required

Mosquito control is of particular concern in the case of stormwater wetlands. They can be designed, constructed and maintained to minimize the likelihood of being desirable habitat for mosquito populations, but no design will eliminate them completely. Designs that incorporate constant inflows and outflows, habitat for natural predators, and constant permanent pool elevations limit the conditions typical of mosquito breeding habitat.

Construction phase maintenance

The construction phase is another critical step where O&M issues can be minimized or avoided.

Inspections during construction are needed to ensure that the stormwater wetland is built in accordance with the approved design and standards and specifications. Detailed inspection checklists should be used that include sign-offs by qualified individuals at critical stages of construction, to ensure that the contractor’s interpretation of the plan is acceptable to the professional designer. An example construction phase inspection checklist is provided at this link.

Post construction operation and maintenance

Proper post-construction maintenance is important to the long-term performance of a stormwater wetland. Potential problems due to lack of maintenance include:

  • A clogged outlet structure can increase water levels, killing vegetation and reducing the wetland’s ability to attenuate and store floods. Water quality can be compromised by not providing adequate storage time.
  • Excess sediment can reduce storage volumes leading to many of the problems outlined above.
  • Nuisance issues such as beaver and muskrat burrows/dens can threaten the integrity of embankments.

Some important post construction maintenance considerations are provided below. More detailed maintenance guidance can be found in the Stormwater Pond and Wetland Maintenance Guidebook (CWP, 2004).

Warning: It is Required that a legally binding and enforceable maintenance agreement be executed between the practice owner and the local review authority.
  • Adequate access must be provided for inspection, maintenance, and landscaping upkeep, including appropriate equipment and vehicles. It is Recommended that a maintenance right of way or easement extend to ponds from a public or private road.
  • It is Highly Recommended that stormwater wetlands be inspected annually during winter freeze periods to look for signs of improper operation.
  • It is Highly Recommended that sediment removal in the forebay occur every 2 to 7 years or after 50 percent of total forebay capacity has been lost. In areas where road sand is used, an inspection of the forebay and stormwater wetland should be scheduled after the spring melt to determine if clean-out is necessary.
  • Sediments excavated from stormwater wetlands that do not receive runoff from confirmed hotspots are generally not considered toxic or hazardous material, and can be safely disposed by either land application or land filling. Sediment testing may be necessary prior to sediment disposal when a confirmed hotspot land use is present.
  • Periodic mowing of the stormwater wetland buffer is Highly Recommended along maintenance rights-of-way and the embankment. The remaining buffer can be managed as a meadow (mowing every other year), prairie, or forest.

General maintenance activities and schedule are provided in the following table.

Typical inspection/maintenance frequencies for stormwater wetlands
Link to this table

Inspection Items Maintenance Items Frequency
  • Ensure that at least 50% of wetland plants survive.
  • Check for invasive wetland plants.
Replant wetland vegetation One time - After First Year
  • Inspect low flow orifices and other pipes for clogging
  • Check the permanent pool or dry pond area for floating debris, undesirable vegetation.
  • Investigate the shoreline for erosion
  • Monitor wetland plant composition and health.
  • Look for broken signs, locks, and other dangerous items.
  • Mowing – minimum Spring and Fall
  • Remove debris
  • Repair undercut, eroded, and bare soil areas.
Monthly to Quarterly or After Major Storms (>1”)
  • Monitor wetland plant composition and health.
  • Identify invasive plants
  • Assure mechanical components are functional
  • Trash and debris clean-up day
  • Remove invasive plants
  • Harvest wetland plants
  • Replant wetland vegetation
  • Repair broken mechanical components if needed
Semi-annual to annual
  • All routine inspection items above Inspect riser, barrel, and embankment for damage
  • Inspect all pipes
  • Monitor sediment deposition in facility and forebay
  • Pipe and Riser Repair
  • Forebay maintenance and sediment removal when needed
Every 1 to 3 years
Monitor sediment deposition in facility and forebay Forebay maintenance and sediment removal when needed 2-7 years or 50% loss of sediment forebay storage
Remote television inspection of reverse slope pipes, underdrains, and other hard to access piping
  • Sediment removal from main pond/wetland
  • Pipe replacement if needed
5-25 years

Related pages

This page was last edited on 8 September 2021, at 18:17.


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