Skip to main content

Private Water Quality Facility Program FAQ

Bioswale: sidewalk, swale, grass, plant, raingarden, native plants
What is the intent of the private water quality facility management program? 

The goal of this program is to ensure that private water quality facilities function as intended and to educate property owners who own these facilities on the proper inspection and maintenance practices, which will keep the facility functioning properly.

What is the purpose of a water quality facility and how does it function? 

Water quality facilities generally fall into two — vegetated and structural. Each type of water quality facility is designed to meet standards outlined in the OLWS Design and Construction Standards. In general, stormwater passes through the vegetated facilities and a variety of stormwater pollutants and nutrients are filtered by the vegetation. In a structural facility, stormwater pollutants are removed through filter media such as perlite. There are also water quality maintenance holes (or manholes), which capture sediments and floatables prior to the discharge into either vegetated or structural water quality facilities.

Why is OLWS inspecting private water quality facilities? 

In accordance with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued by Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), we are required to identify owners of private water quality facilities, develop and implement an inspection program, and develop and distribute educational materials describing the purpose of these water quality facilities and the maintenance techniques to keep the private water quality facilities functioning.

How often can I expect OLWS to inspect my facility? 

OLWS will visit your facility at least once every five years to inspect and consult with you about maintenance needed to correct any identified deficiencies. We will also send annual notices to remind you of your obligation to maintain your facility. OLWS will attempt to notify you before entering the property to perform inspections.

As an owner of a private water quality facility, what is my responsibility? 

As the owner, you are responsible for inspecting your facility annually and performing maintenance to ensure your facility continues to function properly. If you receive a maintenance correction list from OLWS that identifies deficiencies with your facility, you must develop a plan to correct the deficiencies.

What happens if I do not perform the required maintenance after deficiencies are identified by OLWS? 

OLWS will work with each owner to comply with requests to address deficiencies identified during an inspection. The first step is to educate each property owner on the importance of maintenance and how to maintain their facility. The goal is to achieve voluntary compliance. If voluntary compliance cannot be achieved, we may implement an escalating enforcement process.

How do I maintain my water quality facility? 

Every owner of a private water quality facility will receive an information packet that includes guidance on how to inspect and maintain their facility: 

  • Examples of approved vegetation that can be planted in vegetated facilities.
  • Fact sheets that help you identify invasive weeds and methods of control.
  • Operation and maintenance plans that provide guidance on how to maintain each type of facility.
Why is it so important to maintain my water quality facility? 

A well-functioning facility reduces stormwater pollution from entering local waterways and can reduce localized flooding and erosion issues. Vegetated water quality facilities can also be beautiful and add to the aesthetic value of your property if maintained properly. Ultimately these facilities help protect water quality in the Lower Willamette River Watershed, a natural resource that provides drinking water and recreational opportunities. 

Home, rain garden
Rain garden at Rose Villa using native plants and soil to slow down stormwater and filter out pollutants as water soaks into the ground.
Join our mailing list