The Importance of Operation and Maintenance for the Long-Term Success of Green Infrastructure

A review of GI O&M practices in ARRA Clean Water SRF projects, 2013

ImportanceO&MIn 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act established the Green Project Reserve (GPR) fund within the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program. It designated 20% of SRF funds specifically for green projects. The GPR funded 259 green infrastructure projects. This document reviews operations and maintenance activities for 22 of those projects in combination with review of the latest literature on GI O&M. In 2013, only 10% of the SRF is designated for GPR projects.

Observed O&M practices include:

  1. Accountability mechanisms such as O&M plans or manuals
  2. Documentation and tracking systems for O&M activity
  3. Training and education
  4. Partnerships
  5. Vehicles for compliance assurance (e.g., maintenance agreements or ordinances)
  6. Dedicated funding source(s) (e.g., stormwater utilities or general funds; grants will typically not fund O&M)

Available here (PDF, 2.5 MB).

Staying Green: Strategies to improve O&M of GI in the Chesapeake Bay watershed

American Rivers and Green for All, 2013


This American Rivers project documents both the challenges of GI O&M that the communities within the watershed have faced as well as the strategies that have been used to overcome those challenges.

The challenges include:

  1. Funding O&M, which has been overcome through general funds, utility fees, etc.
  2. Lack of public awareness/poor public perception, which has been overcome by homeowner incentive programs, workshops, tours, volunteer programs, etc.
  3. Limited training and certification, which has been overcome by creating maintenance standards and then creating handbooks and training programs, by building collaborative programs, etc.
  4. Minimal or ineffective enforcement and inspection, which has been overcome by modification of procedures and schedules, training certifications, volunteer inspection programs, tracking and evaluation programs, etc.

The report also includes annual maintenance costs of GI practices, tools for calculating annual maintenance costs (e.g., generic spreadsheets), and a thorough appendicies (with hundreds of links), including:

  • Inspection and maintenance activities for select GI practices
  • Sample operations and maintenance manuals including GI practices
  • Resources for sample operations and maintenance checklists by GI practices
  • Samples of education and outreach materials for private property owners and the public
  • Agendas from training programs

Available here.

Field Guide: Maintaining Rain Gardens, Swales and Stormwater Planters

A resource created by Oregon State University Extension: Stormwater Solutions, 2013

The Oregon State University Extension Stormwater Solutions site contains many helpful resources, including this new Field Guide for GI O&M. The guide comprises a usable, picture-driven approach to inspection and maintenance, and is truly designed to be used in the field. For example, it shows pictures of what erosion might look like (“problem”) and how to correct it (“solution”), pictures of 15 common invasive weeds, and pictures of GI features that require pruning, pictures of ineffective pruning jobs, and guidelines to follow when pruning.

The guide also includes helpful appendicies:

  • Inspection/Maintenance Checklist
  • Sample Inspection and Maintenance Log
  • Additional Resources

Available here (PDF, 8MB) or on this page.