Beyond the Bookshelf: Creative and Proven Methods for Making your Stormwater Management Plan Work for You!
Traditionally Stormwater Management Plans (SWMPs) have been large encyclopedic documents that restate Municipal Permit requirements in excruciating detail and have lots of background, regulatory, technical and administrative jargon describing what must be done, by whom and by when along with endless BMP fact sheets. Due to the cumbersome format and content of most SWMPs, they are rarely used by program managers during daily work. Most Municipal Permits require preparation of SWMPs, but they typically sit on bookshelves or take up space on the desks of stormwater administrators because they are often cumbersome, not user friendly, not jurisdiction specific enough and they don’t present information in a meaningful way to the variety of staff who are responsible for implementing “control measures” and “performance standards”. Not to mention these massive binders are difficult to carry to meetings or in a truck. The City of South Lake Tahoe (City) had this exact problem. They had a very large, thorough and detailed SWMP which staff struggled to utilize and implement for more than a permit term. In 2012 when the new Phase I National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Permit was issued by the Lahontan RWQCB the City decided to revamp their SWMP to not only check a regulatory box, but focus on making it more concise, user friendly and relevant to the City. Through a creative framework the City developed a SWMP that minimized text and maximized flexibility so the City’s stormwater program coordinator had a user friendly tool to communicate task responsibilities and easily track progress and produce reports. This presentation will highlight the challenges the City faced, the creative process used to develop the revamped SWMP and the success the City has experienced implementing the new SWMP. The document and tracking tools will be shared with the audience and they will be engaged through a series of examples and questions highlighting how “it’s always been done” versus how it can be done. This presentation addresses the conference theme by highlighting the role an effective and functional SWMP can play in ensuring stormwater program activities actually achieve on the ground outcomes, not just fulfill regulatory requirements. This presentation also directly addresses the Municipal Permit theme by demonstrating how to “veer away from the way it’s always been done” and overcoming or “traversing internal bureaucracies” with an example of how the City has done both of these things in developing a more functional SWMP. Lastly the presentation addresses the Managing Stormwater at a Regional Scale theme as implementation of the City’s SWMP creatively provides “multiple water resource benefits” through partnering with adjacent jurisdictions, compliance with the Lake Tahoe Basin wide NPDES permit and implementation of the Lake Tahoe Basin TMDL.