What does it mean to be privately maintained?
Privately maintained stormwater management facilities are maintained by the facility owner. The county does not have direct maintenance responsibility. However, Fairfax County is still responsible under state and federal stormwater permits for ensuring that the facilities remain in place, operate properly and are functional. To this end the county has established an inspection schedule for all privately maintained facilities, together with reporting and enforcement procedures for communicating inspection results to facility owners and gaining maintenance compliance.
Introduction to the Private Inspection Program
As part of Fairfax County’s stormwater management program, Maintenance and Stormwater Management Division (MSMD) inspects stormwater management facilities to ensure proper maintenance is performed and that the facility is functioning according to the approved design. The county performs maintenance inspections of stormwater management facilities to meet regulatory requirements and to practice good environmental stewardship. For privately maintained facilities, the facility owner is responsible for ensuring proper maintenance and functionality of the stormwater facility.
Privately maintained stormwater facilities are inspected at least once every five years. The condition assessment is a point-in-time visual observation of a facility and does NOT include full confined space entry for detailed structural analysis, chemical testing of the water quality or precise quantity estimates. However, MSMD may request the owner to perform one or more additional investigations at their own expense to determine functionality of the facility.
Property owners should expect to receive a letter in the mail in the months preceding the inspection informing them of the upcoming inspection. These pre-inspection letters are by default sent to the owner of record from the county tax administration database. Please email MSMD if you would prefer to have written notices mailed to a different address, and include the Site ID and Facility ID listed on the letter. Use the online county stormwater map to find your facility ID. If, for any reason, the inspectors are unable to complete the inspection, notification will be mailed to the owner of record requesting cooperation in scheduling an inspection. Failure to provide access to the facility for inspection purposes may be considered a violation.
If you are curious about the privately maintained stormwater facilities on your property, or when to expect the next inspection of those facilities, please call 703-877-2800, TTY 711, for more detailed information.
Notice of Inspection
Within 30 to 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. When a stormwater facility has multiple owners, the NOI may be mailed to the property management company rather than to each individual owner. Where there are multiple stormwater facilities on a single site, the NOI reports for those multiple facilities may be combined into a single mailing. 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/Maintenance Agreement for Stormwater Management Facilities (PMA) (described further below)
- Maps showing the facility and parcel location
- General Maintenance Guidelines specific for the type of facility
- Maintenance Contractor List
- Maintenance Activity Report (MAR) (described further below). 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.
Required maintenance items are listed in the CAR, which is the first attachment in the NOI. Each maintenance item refers to one or more of the attached photos. Maintenance items usually require that the facility be restored to its approved plan condition, meaning its original design condition as shown in the approved facility plan sheets. Sediment accumulation and structural deterioration, among other common maintenance problems, naturally occur over time and eventually impact facility functionality. The maintenance items listed are needed to either restore proper functionality or to ensure continued functionality of the stormwater facility.
The inspection record for a stormwater facility in need of maintenance remains “open” until all required maintenance specified in the CAR is fully complete. Forty-five days are provided from the time of the initial NOI delivery to the next follow-up phase. If an adequate response is not received within that time, then follow-up letters are mailed as reminders that a response is still required. A total time of 135 days is provided for voluntary compliance before the facility moves into the enforcement phase.
Fairfax County maintains a list of contractors who have completed a county-sponsored stormwater facility maintenance awareness training program. These contractors are not guaranteed by the county, 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 of maintenance work on their own stormwater facilities without outside assistance.
A blank 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 CAR.
- 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 described in the CAR must be fully completed within the allowed time (135 days).
The completed MAR may be submitted either in hardcopy form or electronically. Submittal addresses are:
Attn: Visual Condition Assessment Program
Department of Public Works and Environmental Services
Maintenance and Stormwater Management Division
10635 West Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
*Please note emails are limited to 10MB each.
Please email or call 703-877-2800, TTY 711, if you have questions regarding the maintenance requirements for your stormwater facility.
Once your response is received showing completion of all required maintenance items, the stormwater facility’s inspection record is closed until the next regular five-year inspection. Please remember to continue regular maintenance of the stormwater facility in the meantime, as most maintenance needs are ongoing regardless of county inspection frequency. Also remember to submit to the county any annual inspection and/or maintenance reports required by your facility’s recorded PMA.
Voluntary compliance is preferred whenever possible, but Fairfax County does administer an active enforcement program for private facilities that are not properly maintained voluntarily.
Failure to properly maintain a stormwater facility may be considered a violation of Chapter 124, Stormwater Management Ordinance Section 124-8-3(b)(7), The Code of Fairfax County, Virginia (for facilities with a recorded PMA), or Zoning Ordinance Section 17-108(6) (for facilities without a recorded PMA).
A private maintenance agreement, or PMA, is required for all new stormwater management facilities located on private property or in a public right-of-way. The PMA is recorded in the county’s land records and runs with the land as part of the recorded deed. It is thus binding on all subsequent landowners. In a typical PMA, the landowner and the county agree that:
- The stormwater management facilities shall be constructed in accordance with the plans.
- The landowner shall maintain the stormwater management facilities as shown in the plans in good working order acceptable to the county and in accordance with the specific maintenance requirements noted on the plan and/or attached to the PMA.
- The landowner grants permission for the county and its authorized agents and employees to enter the property and to inspect the stormwater management facilities whenever it deems necessary.
- In the event the landowner fails to maintain the stormwater management facilities in good working order, the county may (but is not obligated to) enter upon the property and take whatever steps it deems necessary to maintain said stormwater management facilities. In that event the landowner shall reimburse the county for the incurred maintenance costs.
A full copy of each recorded PMA is provided with the NOI.
New regulations require the PMA to include language requiring the owner to perform annual inspections and maintenance of their facility. These owner-generated inspection reports and maintenance items may be submitted to the county in the same way as a post-inspection MAR.