City of Birmingham / County of Jefferson

The Jefferson County Department of Storm Water Management is responsible for addressing pollution that may enter the County’s municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4), thereby improving water quality in the waterways of Jefferson County. To maximize program efficiency, the Storm Water Management Department utilizes a broad approach which includes interdepartmental collaboration to ensure Jefferson County is meeting federal and state regulations in order to reduce the amount of stormwater pollution flowing into and through local rivers, creeks, lakes and streams.

The Phase 1 NPDES MS4 program is mandated by federal law but is not funded by the federal government. AL 95-775 was passed by the Alabama Legislature so that a fee can be collected to finance the storm water program. For Jefferson County un-incorporated, the program is financed through a fee that is assessed on property parcels. The storm water fee appears on the yearly property tax bill. The Act of 95-775 has been amended in a legislative session in 2014.

Article 13 of the Jefferson County Subdivision and Construction Ordinance requires that individuals conducting land disturbing activities in unincorporated areas of the County apply for a land disturbing activity permit, submit a stormwater management plan, and implement effective erosion and sedimentation controls at construction sites. No building permit for any Individual Residential Structures (including additions, mobile homes or accessory buildings) will be issued without a Storm Water Management Permit or Exclusion Letter.

Storm Water Management Authority, Inc

The Storm Water Management Authority, consisting of 21 municipalities, has contracted with the Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH) to perform storm water monitoring, sampling, laboratory analysis, erosion inspection, and education on behalf of its member municipalities.

Members are:






Mtn. Brook




Center Point


Pleasant Grove









Vestavia Hills

Each member municipality is required by the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA) and the
Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) National Pollution Discharge
Elimination System (NPDES) permit program to protect watersheds within their city limits.
The CWA is the cornerstone for watershed protection.

Standard Operating Procedures Manual
The Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) Manual has been developed as an aid to assist Storm Water Management Authority, Inc (SWMA) member cities in meeting storm water requirements as addressed in EPA’s SWMA audit report. The Manual provides standardized procedures for member cities to use to conduct storm water management operations, as well as in meeting reporting requirements. The Manual provides for:

  • Standardized procedures for inspections as conducted by the municipality or by
    Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH)
  • Standardized procedures for illicit discharge detection and elimination
  • Pollution prevention / good housekeeping procedures for municipal operations
  • Erosion and sedimentation control procedures
  • Member city reporting of storm water data to SWMA for use in the annual report

This Manual provides a standardization that incorporates a commonly accepted framework, technical standards, and guidance on stormwater management measures that control the quantity and quality of stormwater produced from common municipal activities. This Manual will not only provide assistance to municipalities to meet the Stormwater Phase I regulations, but encourages them to use targeted best management practices (BMPs) within the watershed with the long-term goal of consistent application by all regulated entities within the watershed. The manual aids in helping communities’ Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE) program and provides a basis for future employee training. The Manual will also help promote improvement in the water quality of Jefferson County’s lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers.

Pollutants carried by storm water degrade surface waters making them unsafe for drinking,
fishing, swimming, and other activities. As authorized by the CWA, the NPDES permit
program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into
waters of the United States. Point sources are discrete conveyances such as pipes or ditches.
In Jefferson County ADEM administers this permit program. ADEM issues permits to
companies allowing discharge by collecting samples from creeks and streams within
Jefferson County.

Jefferson County Subdivision and Construction Ordinance


(Entire Article Amended and Adopted 12/8/2009)

13.10 General.

All persons engaged in any land-disturbing activities shall take all reasonable measures to protect all public and private property, including roadways and waterways, from damage by such activities. However, that notwithstanding, there are certain specific measures that must be taken any time there is significant disturbance of the land; and the following provisions set forth the requirements that shall accordingly be imposed on persons engaged in land disturbing activities which necessitate planning and implementation of effective erosion and sedimentation controls for development sites.

The following provisions and requirements will not apply to activities listed as being exempt in Section 13.22 of this Article.

13.11 Authority and Jurisdiction Specific to this Article.

Whereas ADEM, pursuant to the authority delegated to it under the Clean Water Act, 33 u.s.c. Section 1251, et seq., has required the County to obtain a NPDES permit for storm water discharges from the MS4, effective March 1, 1995, the County is subject to the federal storm water laws and regulations contained in 33 U.S.C. 1342 (P) and 40 C.F.R. 122.26, and is required to adopt a local erosion control ordinance. Act No. 95775 of the Alabama State Legislature (Code of Alabama 1975, § 11-89C 1-14) and other provisions of the Code of Alabama 1975 grant the authority to adopt such ordinances to the governing bodies of counties.

13.20 Administration.

The Department of Inspection Services (The Department) shall be responsible for the enforcement of the provisions of this Article throughout the territorial jurisdiction of the County, under the oversight of its Director and/or Chief Civil Engineer.

13.31 Basic Control Objectives.

The basic control objectives which should be considered in developing and implementing an erosion and sedimentation control plan are to:

  1. Identify Critical Areas. On-site areas which are subject to severe erosion, and off-site areas which are especially vulnerable to damage from erosion and/or sedimentation caused from increased run-off are to be identified and receive special attention.
  2. Limit Exposed Areas. All land-disturbing activities should be planned and conducted to minimize the size of the area to be exposed at any one time.
  3. Limit Time of Exposure. To the maximum extent practicable, all land-disturbing activities should be planned and conducted to limit exposure to the shortest feasible time.
  4. Control Surface Water. Surface water runoff originating upgrade of exposed areas should be controlled to reduce erosion and sediment loss, to the maximum extent practicable, during the period of exposure.
  5. Control Sedimentation. All land-disturbing activities should be planned and conducted so as to prevent offsite sedimentation damage.
  6. Manage Storm Water Runoff. When the increase in storm water volumes, peak rates and/or velocity of storm water runoff resulting from a land-disturbing activity is sufficient to cause damaging accelerated erosion of the receiving ditch or channel stream, plans should include measures to help control the velocity and/or rate of release so as to minimize accelerated erosion and increased sedimentation of the ditch or stream channel. This may include the use of outlet energy dissipaters, detention methods, ditch or instream channel measures or engineered controls.
  7. Low Impact Development Techniques. Erosion and sedimentation control plans should seek to incorporate low impact development and environmental site design techniques, such as infiltration and capture/re-use of storm water, to the maximum extent practicable.

13.40 Commencement of Land-Disturbing Activities:

Responsibilities of the Property Owner/Developer.

No land-disturbing activity subject to the provisions and requirements of this Article shall be undertaken except in accordance with the following mandatory processes and procedures. Persons conducting land-disturbing activities shall take all reasonable measures referred to, or provided for, in this Article to protect all public and private property from damage caused by such activities, and to reduce storm water pollution to the maximum extent practicable.

f. The person engaged in or conducting the land-disturbing activity shall be responsible for maintaining all temporary and permanent erosion and sedimentation measures and facilities during the development of a site. The responsibility for maintaining all permanent erosion and sedimentation control measures and facilities after site development is completed shall lie with the landowner, until such time as adequate vegetative cover and site stabilization is achieved as determined by the Director or his/her designee.

g. Control measures shall be maintained as an effective barrier to sedimentation and erosion in accordance with the provisions of this ordinance. All control measures shall be checked, and repaired as necessary, monthly in dry periods and within twenty-four (24) hours after any precipitation at the site of 0.75 inches or greater in any 24-hour period. During prolonged rainfalls, daily checking and, if necessary, repairing shall be done. The registrant of the erosion and sedimentation control plan shall maintain written records of such checks and repairs, which records shall be subject to inspection by Department personnel at any reasonable time.

k. Accidental Discharges.

  1. In the event of any discharge of a hazardous substance or a significant spill of a hazardous substance to the MS4 which could constitute a threat to human health or the environment, the owner or operator of the site shall give notice to the Department and the Jefferson County Emergency Management Authority in the same manner, and within the same time, as is required by State regulations for notice to ADEM.
  2. The owner or operator of such property shall take all reasonable steps to minimize any adverse impact to the community waters caused by discharges to the MS4, including such improved or additional monitoring as may be necessary to determine the nature and impact of the discharge. Absent a compelling public interest to the contrary, it shall not be a defense for the owner or operator in an enforcement action that it would have been necessary to halt or reduce the business or activity of the site, or any project or facility thereon, to maintain water quality and minimize any adverse impact that the discharge may cause.

13.60 Enforcement and Abatement

  1. Unauthorized Discharges. Any discharge of storm water made in violation ofthis ordinance, or of any condition of an erosion and sedimentation control plan registered pursuant to this ordinance, shall be subject to correction and/or abatement in accordance with applicable law; provided, however, that the following direct or indirect discharges into the MS4 are allowable under the terms of this ordinance (unless determined by the Director or his/her designee to be a source of contamination to the community water): landscape irrigation; uncontaminated water from foundation and footing drains; discharges from springs; lawn watering; and discharges from fire fighting activities.
  2. Immediate Threats to Public Health or Welfare. Notwithstanding any other provision in this ordinance to the contrary, in the event of an immediate threat to the public health or welfare, the Director may take any and all appropriate measures to remove or alleviate such threat.
  3. Enforcement Authority. The Director or his/her designee shall have the authority to issue notices of violation and citations, and to designate those persons who have enforcement authority. In exercising that authority, the persons enforcing the requirements of this Article shall follow the policies and procedures outlined herein below.

1. Written Notice. Whenever an authorized employee of the Department finds that a registrant, or any other person discharging storm water, has violated or is violating this Article or the erosion and sedimentation control plan registered hereunder, the Department shall serve upon such person written notice of the violation. Within ten (10) days of such notice, the permit registrant/property owner shall submit to the Department a written explanation of the violation and a plan for the satisfactory correction and prevention thereof, including the specific action(s) to be taken. However, submission of said plan in no way relieves the discharger of liability for any violations occurring before or after receipt of the notice of violation.

8. Further Action. The Jefferson County Department of Inspection Services shall monitor all land-disturbing activities, including those approved under an ADEM NPDES permit, for compliance with the BMP/erosion and sedimentation control plan, and with all other applicable conditions or requirements as may have been made a part of said permit. The Department shall also be authorized to take whatever enforcement action may be necessary to bring a work site into compliance with said permit, as well as with all applicable requirements of this Article, to the fullest extent allowed by law. And, in any case where the Director determines that a non-compliant condition cannot or will not be satisfactorily addressed by the responsible parties, that enforcement action shall include the right for Jefferson County, or a designated agent of said County, to enter upon such non-compliant property (as provided in Section 13.30(f)); to carry out the work necessary to eliminate and/or prevent hazardous conditions, or erosion and/or sedimentation problems (as provided in Section 13.51); and to assess whatever penalties as may be deemed appropriate (under Section 13.61) by a court of law.

City of Birmingham Department of Planning, Engineering and Permits



4.1 General.

  1. The policy of the City of Birmingham relative to stormwater detention/retention is that the postdevelopment runoff rate equals the pre-development runoff rate. Specific means and methods of achieving this goal are the responsibility of the engineer of record but shall reflect accepted engineering practice.
  2. The operation and maintenance of the stormwater detention/retention facility shall be the responsibility of the owner/developer. The engineer of record shall be responsible for instructing the owner/developer in the proper operation and maintenance of the facility.
  3. Any liability associated with the design, performance and operation of the stormwater detention/retention facility remains with the owner/developer and the engineer of record.
  4. Design.
  1. The detention/retention facility including the principal spillway or outlet structure shall be designed based on runoff estimates for a rainfall event with a 25-year return period.
  2. The emergency spillway shall be designed to accommodate the estimated runoff from a rainfall event with a 100-year return period without catastrophic damage to the facility or downstream areas.
  3. Stormwater Detention/Retention facilities shall be designed by routing a hydrograph through the facility. No “shortcut” or storage estimation methods shall be used as a final design. Methods based on the Natural Resources Conservation Service's unit hydrograph are recommended for developing hydrographs. However, any acceptable method will be considered.

Storm Water Management Authority, Inc. Standard Operating Procedures

(Storm Water Management Authority, Inc. in cooperation with Jefferson County Department of Health, 5/19/2010)


The specific objectives of the Manual are to

  • Provide a uniform set of technical standards and guidance on stormwater management measures that will control both the quantity and quality of stormwater produced by municipal activities, new development, redevelopment, and post-construction;
  • Assist municipalities in meeting Stormwater Phase I requirements;
  • Encourage the use of uniform BMP strategies with the long term goal of consistent application by all regulated entities within the watershed;
  • Encourage municipal cost-savings through proper and timely maintenance of stormwater systems; and
  • Promote behavior that will improve the water quality throughout Jefferson County


Most Storm Water members own and maintain their own buildings, parks, and other green spaces while others rely on Jefferson County to provide this service. Those that have their own maintenance staff perform general maintenance activities that include mowing and trimming, painting, pest control, weed control, and all of the chemical and petroleum handling that is associated with these activities. The SOPs contained in Appendix B provide best management practices to protect stormwater from the potential hazards associated with each of these maintenance activities. Facilities maintenance personnel should be trained in each of the SOPs associated with their job by their respective cities or JCDH.

In addition to training municipal employees on the SOPs in Appendix B that affect their jobs, a formal street sweeping program can reduce pollutant loads from road salt and can reduce sand export to receiving waters. Street sweeping also reduces the amount of sediment, debris, and organic matter being washed away by stormwater. A street sweeping schedule will need to be kept similar to the one shown in Appendix B and presented to Storm Water.

Storm Drain Pipe/Outfall Cleaning and Inspections – A cleaning and inspection prioritization should be established by all municipalities for storm drain pipes and outfalls. The City Manager should consider conducting annual inspections on storm drains and outfalls in high priority areas. Less frequent inspections (every 2 to 3 years) should be completed for medium and low priority areas. Inspections for structural conditions should be combined with the inspections for illicit discharges as described in Section 2.4.2. JCDH is helping to aid municipalities in this endeavor through the mapping of the storm drain and outfalls by providing information on the condition and sedimentation loading of each pipe.

Catch basin Cleaning and Inspection – A prioritization plan should also be established for catch basin cleaning. The prioritization can be completed by the City Manager using the following two considerations: (1) amount of winter sand spread in different areas (this will be zero for most cities but should still be included in the plan), and (2) areas that have historically accumulated a large quantity of sediment or debris. This prioritization should be reviewed and updated frequently. The re-evaluation should use the same two criteria listed above (sand application and historical sediment accumulation). City Managers should identify a reasonable frequency of cleaning based on need, municipal budgets, and personnel availability. JCDH and Jefferson County can provide some assistance to cities without their own capabilities

The Catch Basin Cleaning Form contained in Appendix A, should be used during cleaning as a method to inspect the catch basins to evaluate the integrity of the structure and identify necessary repairs. Any repairs identified on the forms should be incorporated into the municipality’s work order system. Communities that outsource catch basin cleaning should either require that the contractor use the inspection form or should consider sending a public works employee, intern, or other municipal representative along with the contractor to evaluate structures. This form will be used by Storm Water and JCDH to estimate the effectiveness of the program so all forms should be completed and given to the relevant agency.

Ditches and Swales Maintenance - Many Storm Water members have rural areas, where the storm drain system consists of roadside ditches. Sediment, grass clippings, winter sand, leaves, excess vegetation and other debris periodically impedes the proper function of these ditches and should be removed approximately annually. Ditch cleaning can be conducted manually or using heavy equipment. Ditch cleaning should be conducted during low water periods, minimizing the disturbance to existing vegetation. If existing vegetation is removed during ditch cleaning, the ditch side slopes should be seeded and mulched as soon as possible after dredging. Ditch cleaning with heavy equipment should not be conducted in areas where the ditch carries a perennial stream unless specifically approved by the Army Corp of Engineers. Pesticide use should also be kept to a minimum in these sensitive areas due to their direct impact on waterways.

3.3.1 Long Term Control Structure Inspection and Maintenance

In addition to the storm drain pipes, catch basins and outfalls, long term control structures such as detention ponds, vegetated filter strips, grass swales, and constructed wetlands must be inspected and maintained.

ADEM produces a BMP Manual that tells the design features for these BMPS that must be maintained. JCDH is working on a Manual that will tell the frequency of maintenance needed for these devices and is targeted for release in August 2012. The following table 3-5 provides recommended maintenance requirements from NHDES BMPs for Urban Stormwater Runoff to provide some general guidance until the manual can be released.



Structure Type

Maintenance Requirements

Extended Detention Pond (Dry)

The embankment should be inspected annually to determine if rodent burrows, wet areas, or erosion of the fill are present. Trees and shrubs should be kept off the embankment and emergency spillway areas.

The vegetation should be mowed once per year to discourage woody growth. Vegetation should be managed without the aid of fertilizers.

If vegetation is sparse or non-existent, test soils for proper nutrients/growing conditions and re- vegetate with drought-tolerant.

Pipe inlets and outlets should be inspected annually and after major storm events. Sediment should be continually checked in the basin and removed as necessary. The structure should be inspected by a qualified professional on a periodic basis.

Vegetated Filter Strips

A properly designed and constructed filter strip should require little maintenance. It should be inspected frequently during the first year of operation and then annually thereafter. Large accumulations of sediments should be removed, and all gullies filled in and stabilized. Areas of bare soil should be immediately stabilized.

Grassed Swales

Swales should be mowed at least once per year to prevent the establishment of woody vegetation.

Sediments should be removed as required and swale reseeded if necessary. Grass should not be mowed to less than three inches in height.

Wet Ponds and Constructed Wetlands*

The embankment should be inspected annually to determine if rodent burrows, wet areas, or erosion of the fill are present. Trees and shrubs should be kept off the embankment and emergency spillway areas.

The vegetation should be mowed once per year to discourage woody growth. Vegetation should be managed without the aid of fertilizers.

Inspect vegetation for invasive species annually and remove if present. Supplement wetland plants if <50% surface is bare. Harvest wetland plants that have been “choked out” by sediment buildup.

Pipe inlets and outlets should be inspected annually and after major storm events. Sediment should be continually checked in the basin and removed as necessary.

The structure should be inspected by a qualified professional on a periodic basis.


Jefferson County Stormwater

Birmingham, AL Stormwater Documents

Storm Water Management Authority, Inc  (SWMA)



Alabama Handbook for Erosion Control, Sediment Control and Stormwater Management on Construction Sites and Urban Areas (Rev. No. 3 September 2014)

Runoff Conveyance...p. 93

  • Check Dam (CD)
  • Grass Swale (GS)
  • Riprap-lined Swale (RS)
  • Diversions (DV)
  • Lined Swale (LS)
  • Subsurface Drain (SD)
  • Drop Structure (DS)
  • Outlet Protection (OP)
  • Temporary Slope Drain (TSD)


Sediment Control...p. 129

  • Block and Gravel Inlet Protection (BIP)
  • Filter Strip (FS)
  • Brush/Fabric Barrier (BFB)
  • Floating Turbidity Barrier (FB)
  • Fabric Drop Inlet Protection (FIP)


Stormwater Management...p. 179

  • Bioretention Area (BA)
  • Porous Pavement (PP)
  • Stormwater Detention Basin (SDB)


Stream Protection...p. 197

  • Buffer Zone (BZ)
  • Stream Diversion Channel (SDC)
  • Channel Stabilization (CS)
  • Streambank Protection (SP)