Maintenance: It’s Not Just for Your Car

READY Leader first garden planting | Don Tsusaki, CWP

Planting rain gardens with Howard County’s READY program in Maryland | Don Tsusaki, CWP

Many of us are familiar with maintenance in some form. Whether it’s getting an oil change for the car or unclogging the sink, if we don’t get around to it, we usually end up paying in the long run.

Maintenance for infrastructure that manages stormwater runoff works in much the same manner, albeit at a larger scale. Without consistent maintenance, these practices can fail forcing expensive repairs and posing significant health and safety risks. Green roofs, rain gardens, permeable pavement, or any other type of green infrastructure aren’t immune from requiring maintenance. In fact, uncertainty surrounding the appropriate maintenance for these types of practices is often raised as a barrier to their implementation.

To help improve available resources for local governments, American Rivers and Green for All released a report, Staying Green: Strategies to Improve Operations and Maintenance of Green Infrastructure in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed that highlights existing information related to costs of green infrastructure maintenance, identifies the significant barriers and recommends strategies to improve to effective operations and maintenance, and provides resources and case studies that local governments can use as models.

A rain garden from Montgomery County, MD's Rainscapes program

A rain garden from Montgomery County, MD’s RainScapes program

For example, our research identified the ways that limited training or certification creates barriers to effective maintenance of green infrastructure in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

To overcome this barrier, local governments can use models such as North Carolina State University’s Best Management Practice Inspection and Maintenance Certification program to develop their own tailored training programs. Leveraging existing municipal resources and collaborating with community groups can expand training and certification programs and may ultimately result in employment and business opportunities for people with applicable skills to maintain green infrastructure practices.

American Rivers and Green for All also collaborated on a companion report, Staying Green and Growing Jobs: Green Infrastructure Operations and Maintenance as Career Pathway Stepping Stones that assesses existing and potential occupations in green infrastructure operations and maintenance, highlights existing workforce development programs, and recommends strategies to improve career opportunities and job quality in the field of green infrastructure operations and maintenance. 

To learn more about operations and maintenance of green infrastructure practices download the reports: