Public Works and Environmental Services

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our office is open 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday

703-324-5033
TTY 711

12000 Government Center Parkway
Suite 448 Fairfax, VA 22035

James Patteson,
Director

FAQs: Stormwater Maintenance and Inspections

For better service, please provide Site ID and Facility ID information for all phone messages, emails, and written correspondence with the Maintenance and Stormwater Management Division. Use the online county stormwater map to find your facility ID.

The county hires consultants for many of its stormwater facility inspections and provides them with individual county vendor IDs for photo identification.  County staff also perform some stormwater inspections.  For private stormwater facility inspections, the inspectors will be carrying a copy of the pre-inspection letter that was mailed to you before the inspection, which you may request to see if you have any questions.

Private stormwater facilities are inspected at least once every five years. Complaints regarding a specific facility may generate an out-of-turn inspection.

Some facility inspections may require that someone be present, to open a locked gate for example, or to temporarily cone-off parking spaces to allow access to manholes in a busy parking lot.  For most other private facility inspections, the property owner’s presence is not required.  A property owner may request to be present for the facility inspection.

The inspectors will not provide their inspection results while on-site.  Inspection results need to go through a quality control and reporting process before being sent to the property owner.

Within approximately 30-45 days of the facility inspection, a formal Notice of Inspection (NOI) is sent via certified mail to the facility owner describing the inspection findings and any required maintenance that must be performed.  The NOI typically includes:

    •  
  • Condition Assessment Report (CAR) with corresponding photos detailing the required maintenance items observed during the inspection
  • Copy of approved facility plan sheets
  • Copy of recorded Private Maintenance Agreement (PMA)
  • Maps showing the facility and parcel location
  • General Maintenance Guidelines specific for the type of facility
  • Maintenance Contractor List
  • Maintenance Activity Report (MAR).  Completion of the MAR is required for each facility requiring maintenance and must include photos and any other supporting documentation to close out the inspection.

More information on Notice of Inspection reports is available on the Private Facility Maintenance page

Fairfax County maintains a list of contractors who have completed a county-sponsored Stormwater Facility Maintenance Awareness Training program, as a courtesy to private facility owners.  The county does not endorse any of these listed contractors, nor does this list encompass all possible companies qualified to perform this type of work. Hiring a contractor is not always required; in some cases homeowners can perform the necessary repairs on the maintenance work on their own stormwater facilities without outside assistance.

A blank Maintenance Activity Report (MAR) form is included in the NOI for all facilities with maintenance items identified.  To ensure that your response is complete, please note the following:

      • Reference your Site ID and Facility ID in all verbal and written correspondence. Use the online county stormwater map to find your facility ID.
      • The MAR must be completed and signed for each individual facility.
      • The MAR must address each maintenance issue described in the Condition Assessment Report.
      • Please include photos, invoices, contracts, proposals, and/or work plans with the MAR.
      • Relaying this information via phone does not substitute for completion of the form.
      • No extensions will be granted.  All work must be completed in order to be closed within the allowed time (135 days).

The completed MAR may be submitted either in hardcopy form or electronically.  Submittal addresses are:

Via Standard US Mail
Attn: Visual Condition Assessment Program
Department of Public Works and Environmental Services
Maintenance and Stormwater Management Division
10635 West Drive
Fairfax, Virginia  22030

OR

Email MSMD
Subject: (Site ID/Facility ID as found on the online county stormwater map)
*Please note emails are limited to 10 MB each

Email MSMD.  Please include the Site ID and Facility ID as the email subject line.  Email submittals are limited to 10 MB each, so multiple emails may be required.

Emails are limited to 10 MB each.  If your email has bounced back, try to reduce the file size of the attachments or break them out into multiple email submittals.

No.  Faxed maintenance responses are no longer accepted, as the faxed photos are generally not readable.

No extensions are provided.  However, if you are currently doing the maintenance work, or preparing to do so in the near future, please still provide that information to the Maintenance and Stormwater Management Division.  Any comments you provide will be added to the facility record.  Although Fairfax County does administer an active enforcement program, voluntary compliance is preferred whenever possible.

Relaying the maintenance information by phone is not considered an adequate response; only written maintenance responses that address ALL required maintenance items are accepted for compliance.  Even if you have sent in a full maintenance response, you may still receive a follow-up warning if the two mailings crossed each other in the mail.  Please call the Maintenance and Stormwater Management Division at 703-877-2800, TTY 711, or email if have questions about the adequacy of your maintenance response or need to check on its receipt.

Notice of Inspection reports are sent via certified mail whenever possible, and the county can review the date received information with you upon request.  If the report was sent to the wrong address, then please provide the correct address for the county to send the report again via certified mail.  An additional copy of the Notice of Inspection report may also be provided by email upon request.

Stormwater management has been required for construction within Fairfax County since the mid-1970s to help reduce downstream flooding and improve water quality in both local watersheds and in the Chesapeake Bay.  To meet these stormwater requirements, land developers usually include stormwater facilities such as ponds, infiltration trenches, rain gardens, and other type facilities as part of the overall construction project.  Those stormwater facilities must remain in place and functional to continue providing stormwater management for the property.

Stormwater management is still required as long as the development it was designed to treat continues to exist. Alternate options may be proposed by submitting either a revision or new site-related plan which must provide the same level of stormwater management as the previously designed facility. For residential properties, refer to the Site-Related Plans publication. For additional information on the submission of site-related plans, contact the Customer and Technical Services Center by email or by calling 703-222-0801, TTY 711.

  Lists of plants recommended for use in bioretention facilities and on vegetated roofs are available online.

The county maintains numerous ponds on private property within residential neighborhoods. In those cases, the land owner is still responsible for performing aesthetic maintenance to include trash pickup, non-hazardous tree removal and grass mowing above the county’s established level of service for routine maintenance.  County maintenance of public stormwater facilities focuses on functionality, not aesthetics.

Stormwater management has been required for construction within Fairfax County since the mid-1970’s to help reduce downstream flooding and improve water quality in both local watersheds and in the Chesapeake Bay.  To meet these stormwater requirements, land developers usually include stormwater facilities such as ponds, infiltration trenches, rain gardens, and other types of facilities as part of the overall construction project.  Those facilities must remain in place and functional to continue providing stormwater management for the property.

Stormwater management is still required as long as the development it was designed to treat continues to exist. Alternate options may be proposed by submitting either a revision or new site-related plan which must provide the same level of stormwater management as the previously designed facility. For residential properties, refer to the Site-Related Plans publication. For additional information on the submission of site-related plans, contact the Customer and Technical Services Center by email or by calling 703-222-0801, TTY 711.

A storm drainage easement is an area of land, defined in public land records, for which the County has been granted access and maintenance rights for stormwater purposes.  See also Who maintains the easement? above.

The storm drainage easement gives the county the right to maintain the area as needed for stormwater purposes.  The signs currently installed at stormwater ponds serve two stormwater-related purposes: warning the public of the potential danger of rapidly-rising water within the pond and identifying the facility to help guide pond-maintenance crews.  They may not be removed without county permission.

Planting is allowed in certain areas of ponds and some other facilities.  Guidance on planting in and around ponds is available, including the Planting Application & Authorization Request Form, required for approval for specific plantings.  Unapproved plantings within storm drainage easements may be removed by county maintenance staff.  For questions about plant installation in other, non-pond, facilities, please call the Maintenance and Stormwater Management Division at 703-877-2800, TTY 711, for more information.

Dry ponds hold water for varying amounts of time, depending on the pond design and the amount of recent rainfall.  One common design calls for detaining water for 48 hours after a storm, but some other designs detain the water for as long as 72 hours.  Some newer designs incorporate small permanent pools within an otherwise dry pond basin.  If you notice a change in your local pond’s water detention time, it may indicate that the pond’s outlet control structure has become blocked.  Please call the Maintenance and Stormwater Management Division at 703-877-2800, TTY 711, to report the possible blockage.

Fences are generally allowed, with approval, within storm drainage easements so long as they do not block the flow of water, and so long as the county can still access the easement for inspection and maintenance purposes.  Please contact the Maintenance and Stormwater Management Division at 703-877-2800, TTY 711, prior to installing the fence to confirm that the proposed locations of the fence and gate are acceptable, that the gate size is large enough to accommodate county maintenance equipment, and to arrange a method of locking the gate that still allows county access.

Buildings, sheds, decks, walls, and other non-fence permanent structures are not allowed within storm drainage easements without prior written approval from the county.

Private vehicle parking on the pond access road limits the county’s ability to inspect and maintain the stormwater facility.  The pond’s access road is part of the “appurtenant facilities” installed in the storm drainage easement that are the property of the county, and interfering with county access is a violation of the easement.

  • For maintenance of County storm drains, assistance in determining who maintains a storm drain, and questions about storm drainage easements, use the Storm Drainage Problem form or call the Maintenance and Stormwater Management Division at 703-877-2800, TTY 711.
  • For maintenance of systems in public street rights-of-way (roadside ditches, curb inlets, pipes under the roadway), contact the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) at 1-800-367-7623, TTY 711, or use their online work request form.  Driveway culverts (pipes under driveways that connect the storm drain system on either side) are not part of the public system; they are the property owner's responsibility.
  • Private drainage systems (e.g., driveway culverts/bridges, downspouts, etc.) and ground water are the property owner's responsibility. Drainage directed from gutters, downspouts or other private systems to neighboring properties is a civil matter between the property owners.
  • For life threatening emergencies, dial 911.
  • To report storm flooding during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.- 4 p.m.), call the Maintenance and Stormwater Management Division at 703-877-2800, TTY 711.
  • For after-hours storm flooding emergencies that are not life threatening, call the 24-hour Trouble Response Center at 703-323-1211 or 703-239-8444, TTY 711, and state that you are reporting a storm sewer emergency.
  • For sanitary sewer flooding, call the 24-hour Trouble Response Center at 703-323-1211 or 703-239-8444, TTY 711.

To report a problem with a stormwater facility, please use the Stormwater Facility Maintenance Request Form or call the Maintenance and Stormwater Management Division at 703-877-2800, TTY 711.

Generally maintenance is performed in floodplains only when there is a threat of house flooding.

For information concerning the presence and possible treatment of mosquitoes, please call the Fairfax County Health Department at 703-246-8931, TTY 711.

Private drainage and erosion issues, as well as ground water issues, are the responsibility of the property owner.  Drainage directed from gutters, downspouts or other private systems to neighboring properties is a civil matter between the property owners.  Driveways, and their associated culverts or bridges, that cross public drainage systems (e.g., that cross over ditches or streams) are also the property owner's responsibilities.  Information or assistance may be available from Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District at 703-324-1460, TTY 711, or by email. The Fairfax County Maintenance and Stormwater Management Division, 703-877-2800, TTY 711, may be able to offer assistance about the cause of the problem and possible solutions; however, the county cannot recommend a particular contractor or undertake any work outside a county easement.

  • Keep storm drains free of litter and debris. Do not rake or dump grass clippings or leaves into the storm drainage system.
  • Keep the area easily accessible in case repairs or maintenance are necessary.
  • Do not place sheds or other permanent structures in the easement or on top of drainage structures.
  • Properly apply pesticides and fertilizers in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications several days before rain is forecast; if applied just prior to a rain event, most of it will just wash off and end up in a storm drain. Also consider reducing the number of applications. See Tips on Keeping Your Lawn Green and the Chesapeake Bay Clean for further helpful information.
  • Never dump pet waste, used motor oil, paint, chemicals or other substances into a storm drain. Information about proper disposal of household hazardous waste is available from the Solid Waste Management Program at 703-324-5230, TTY 711.
  • Report dumping or spilling of hazardous materials into a drainage system to the Fire and Rescue Department (emergency: 911; non-emergency: 703-691-2131, TTY 703-877-3715). Report dumping of non-hazardous materials to the Stormwater Planning Division at 703-324-5500, TTY 711.
  • Swimming pools should never be drained into storm drains without properly treating the water first.