Commercial Inspections
As of January 2023, the Washington State Department of Ecology requires the City of Federal Way to strengthen our inspection program. The City will now require implementation of best management practices (BMPs) that prevent pollutants from coming into contact with stormwater.  This differs from our previous inspection program (pre-2023) where the City generally only recommended BMPs to existing businesses, and required certain actions only when our stormwater system became polluted. Federal Way Revised Code (FWRC) Chapter 16.55 set the basis for these inspections, as part of the City’s Pollution Prevention Program.
The City’s Pollution Prevention Program is centered on City staff working together with businesses to manage sources of stormwater pollution through the use of BMPs. The goal of the Pollution Prevention Program is to make sure that only unpolluted rainwater (also known as stormwater) enters storm drains.
BMPs, or Best Management Practices, are corrective actions that prevent pollution. There are two main types of BMPs: Structural and Operational. Businesses must implement the BMPs as established by the King County Stormwater Pollution Prevention Manual, section A-1. Additional BMPs can be required depending on the type of business.

Structural BMPs are physical, structural, or mechanical devices or facilities that are intended to prevent pollutants from mixing with stormwater. Examples can include: berms, oil/water separators, roof coverings.

Operational BMPs are non-structural practices that prevent or reduce pollutants from mixing with stormwater. Examples can include: making sure staff know how to respond to spills, making sure staff know how to dispose of grease properly.

How will I know which BMPs relate to my business?

City staff will refer you to specific BMPs found in the King County Stormwater Pollution Prevention Manual (found at

What happens during Pollution Prevention inspections?

City staff will arrive at your business unannounced. While walking around the business site with an employee, City staff will note any sources of stormwater pollution. Staff will then identify BMPs to control the sources of pollution. Some of these problems may be resolved immediately, - simple changes such as covering open waste containers. But other problems may take additional time to correct per the appropriate BMPs. Inspections will typically take only 15-30 minutes. Afterwards, City staff will follow up to verify that problems have been resolved and provide technical assistance as needed.


How can I prepare for an inspection?

  • Make sure that only unpolluted rainwater enters storm drain(s) on, or adjacent to, your site.
  • Read Federal Way Revised Code (FWRC) Chapter 16.55 to learn more about BMPs.
  • Read Federal Way Revised Code (FWRC) Chapter 16.50 to learn more about what types of discharges are allowed or prohibited.
  • Get familiar with the King County Commercial BMP resources.
  • Contact Pollution Control Specialist Dan Sternkopf at or 253-397-6945 with any questions.
Commercial Infrastructure Inspections

Commercial and multi-family stormwater inspections are conducted annually. A postcard is mailed to recorded property owners notifying them when the inspection will take place. It is not necessary to be present during the inspection; however, if you would like to be present, please contact us.

In most cases, the inspector does not need to enter the building. The exception is if the system is located in a secured area, such as a stormwater pond located inside a locked fence. In that case, the inspector will contact you to gain access to the facility.

What to Expect
On the day of the inspection, the inspector will do a visual check of the catch basins, storm drain inlets, flow control structures, detention ponds, tanks, vaults, pumps, treatment systems and oil / water separators on your site to ensure they are working properly. They will be looking for high sediment levels in structures, missing or broken components, obvious drainage problems, and invasive or noxious vegetation. The most common maintenance required is removing excessive sediment and vegetation. A follow-up letter will be sent to the property owner only if treatment system repair(s) or structure cleaning is necessary.

Single-Family Construction Projects: Erosion & Sediment Control (ESC) Inspections
Surface Water Management inspectors handle all ESC inspections for single-family construction and remodeling projects. These inspections are a component of the City’s building permit. The City's four required ESC inspections include:

  • Pre-Construction Meeting: Inspectors identify the ESC measures needed
  • Initial ESC Inspection: Inspectors verify that all of the measures are installed correctly before construction begins
  • Interim Inspection: Inspectors ensure that the measures are working properly
  • Final Inspection: Inspectors confirm that areas of disturbed soils are permanently stabilized.