Stormwater Management Facility Inspections

planter box

1. Overview

Stormwater management facilities (SWMF) are any structure that controls the quantity or quality of stormwater. Detention vaults are a type of stormwater management facility that control the quantity of stormwater. Quality control structures are also called best management practices (BMPs).  All facilities require regular inspection and maintenance.

Property owners are required to submit inspection reports for their stormwater management facilities. Property owners that complete the inspection and maintenance process on time will receive an automatic credit on their stormwater utility fee. 

The online forms are now closed. Outstanding inspections have been turned over to the county's contractor for further action. 

2. How to Complete the Online Inspection Forms

The online forms are now closed. Outstanding inspections have been turned over to the county's contractor for further action.

You will receive a letter in September with your facility IDs and whether you are required to complete an inspection this year. Once the inspection period opens, the steps to complete the inspection are: 

  1. Go to the online form(s) for the facilities on your property. The letter from the County lists the facilities that are on your property. Find your facilities using your address.(PDF, 671KB)
  2. Complete the entire online form, attach the proper photos, and sign the online form. After submitting or saving the form, your browser will automatically return to the main County website.  You will receive an email confirming that the County has received your inspection form submission. If you saved the form, you will receive an email confirming that you have saved your form.
  3. The submittal (online form and photos) will be reviewed by County staff (typically within a couple of business days). Staff will send an email with the results of the review. Your submission is not complete until you receive an email entitled “Complete”. Save the “Complete” email in your records.
  4. If you receive an email with “Incomplete” in the subject line, there is an issue with your submittal and resubmittal is required. Use the link in the email to access your form to address the outstanding items that were described in the email by the required date.

Don't Have an Email Address?

Request hardcopy forms at 703-228-4245. Provide your facility IDs and your address with your request. The forms will be mailed within seven business days of the request. Plan accordingly.

Unsure About the Facility Location?

There is a description of the facility location in the letter from the County. The description is from the point of view of facing the front of the house, with your back to the street.




3. First Time You’ve Submitted Inspection Forms?

  1. Keep the letter from the County. You will need the facility IDs listed on the letter.  If you lost your letter, you can locate your stormwater management facility IDs using your address(PDF, 671KB) . Alternatively, you can send a request for another copy to and a PDF of the letter will be emailed to you within a few business days.
  2. Review the links in the photo guidance below. Become familiar with the photos that are required for the submittal.
  3. Go outside and inspect your facility(s). If maintenance is necessary, complete the maintenance. If possible, use a mobile device to complete the inspection report so you can look at the facility while answering the questions.  If you don’t have a mobile device, photograph the facility in detail using a digital camera. Reference the photos later while completing the inspection form online.
  4. Did you forget a photo? Were you interrupted before you could complete the form? You can save and complete the inspection at a later time.  Use the link provided in the email from to go back to the form that you saved.

4. Photo Guidance

When you submit your inspection report, you are required to include certain photos. Click on the descriptions below to see example photos for each type.   

Bioretention and planter boxes: three (3) photos are required

  1. Close-up photo of the inflow/downspout discharge and splash block/rocks(JPG, 146KB)
  2. Facility’s location with the home or building in the background(JPEG, 224KB)
  3. Ponding depth (including a ruler) for planter box or ponding depth (including a ruler) for microbioretention(JPEG, 183KB)

      bioretention closeup splash  SWMF-locationbioretention-photo.jpeg  Ruler to top of pipe bioretentionponding.jpeg

Permeable pavement: two (2) photos are required

  1. Overall photo of the entire driveway or parking lot(JPEG, 3MB). Make sure there are no parked cars covering the permeable pavement
  2. Close-up photo of pavement(JPEG, 4MB) showing approximately 10 pavers in the whole photo. 

     PavementLocation.jpeg GoodPavementcloseup.jpeg

Infiltration trenches: two (2) photos are required

  1. Close-up of the observation well with the cap removed(JPEG, 683KB)
  2. Facility’s location with the home or building in the background(JPEG, 5MB)

     GoodTrenchobswell.jpeg InfiltrationOverall.jpeg

Dry wells: two (2) photos are required

  1. Overall of yard showing the location of the pop-up emitter in relation to the house
  2. Photograph of the downspout where it goes underground to connect to dry well.(JPG, 22KB)

     Dry-well-pop-up-and-house.jpg Dry-well-downspout-goes-underground

Tanks:  three (3) photos are required

1. Overall photo of the tank with the building in the background(PNG, 500KB)
2. Photo of the inflow for the tank(JPG, 182KB)
3. Photo of the outflow(JPG, 134KB)

tank-overall-3.png  tank-inflow-2.jpg  outflow-photo.jpg

5. Infiltration Trench: Inspect 3 Days After Heavy Rain

If you have an infiltration trench, you will need to do your inspection three days after a heavy rainfall, or more than 1/2 inch of rain.

Not sure how much rain fell? Check the rain data for the last three days from Reagan National Airport.  

6. Want to Make Changes to Your Facility?

Send an email to with your address (and facility ID if you have it) describing the changes you would like to make.


  • Substitutions of plant material (1 shrub for 1 shrub) using the Native Plants for Bioretention list do not require any type of approval. Just include a comment in the notes text box at the bottom of the online annual inspection form regarding what plants were removed/added.
  • Changes to the size, location, and type of facility will require a grading plan revision.  As the owner of the facility, you can request a copy of the original grading plan to give to your contractor.  Prior to beginning work, the contractor will need to submit a professionally sealed (landscape architect, land surveyor, or professional engineer) updated grading plan for review and approval by Arlington County Department of Environmental Services. Major changes, which involve land disturbance greater than 2,500 square feet, will require a Land Disturbing Activity Permit (LDA).

7. What’s “Pretreatment”? 

Pretreatment is the small structure that water enters before entering the stormwater management facility. These structures are designed to capture sediment and debris before the stormwater enters the facility. Some facilities have pretreatment, others do not. Your letter will tell you whether you have pretreatment or not. The following are examples of the different types of pretreatment.

Sump Pit Pretreatment Examples:

SumpPit.jpeg SumpPit2.jpeg sumppit3.jpeg

Stone Diaphragm Pretreatment Examples:

StoneDiaghragm.jpeg StoneDiaghragm2.jpeg

Grass Filter Strip Pretreatment Example:

grass filter strip

Forebay Pretreatment Example:


Trench Drain Pretreatment Example:


8. Who Can Inspect and Complete Maintenance for My Stormwater Management Facility?

Facility Type Who Can Perform Inspection/Complete Form? Who Can Complete the Maintenance?***
Bioretention (Microbioretention & Planter Boxes) Property owner or a landscape contractor Owner or a landscape contractor
Cistern Property owner Property owner or plumber
Dry Swale Property owner Property owner
Infiltration Trench or Dry Well

Reference the County letter to determine if submission of the inspection form is required.

Property owner Owner, a landscape contractor or DEQ-certified stormwater management inspector
Invasive Plant Management Plan Property owner Property owner or landscape contractor
Level Spreader Property owner Property owner or landscape contractor
Manufactured Devices of this type: AquaswirlBayFilter, Perk FilterStormceptorStormTech Chamber with Isolator RowUpFlo Filter Manufacturer’s maintenance vendor or DEQ-certified stormwater management inspector Manufacturer’s maintenance vendor or DEQ-certified stormwater management inspector
Manufactured Devices of this type: StormFilterCDSFilterraJellyfish, Vortechs Certified Maintenance Provider Certified Maintenance Provider
Permeable Pavement Property owner Owner using a leaf blower or Shop-Vac, or company with similar equipment
Sand Filter DEQ-certified stormwater management inspector DEQ-certified stormwater management inspector

Reference the County letter to determine if submission of the inspection form is required.

OSHA-certified confined space professional OSHA-certified confined space professional, DEQ-certified stormwater management inspector
Vegetated Roof Property owner or building engineer Owner, a roofing company or vegetated roof vendor
Facilities That Do Not Require Submission of Form
Dry Pond
Rooftop Detention

***Information in this column refers to who can complete the routine maintenance. Capital maintenance or overhaul of the facility might require other specialties. If you need assistance finding a contractor, refer to the suggestions in the "Maintenance Guidance" section below.