BMP Rapid Assessment Methodology (BMP RAM): An Online Tool to Assess BMP Effectiveness
Stormwater managers frequently install structural BMPs as a method to reduce pollutant loading in urban stormwater and improve downslope water quality. However, performance of these treatment BMPs will significantly decline over time if they are not regularly inspected and maintained. BMP construction and implementation is often well-funded, but regular inspections & ongoing maintenance is critical to ensure that these BMPs provide water quality benefits long-term. The prioritization of BMP maintenance and tracking of BMP effectiveness over time has been a continued challenge for many stormwater programs. BMP RAM provides a quick, standardized method to evaluate the effectiveness of stormwater BMPs, assist stormwater managers in prioritizing the spending of their limited maintenance budgets and easily report the benefit of these actions over time.
The BMP Maintenance Rapid Assessment Methodology (BMP RAM) is a publically available, web-based field observation and data management tool that allows users to track the condition and maintenance urgency of their structural BMPs. The tool is designed to meet the needs of a range of users including municipality stormwater managers as well as private landowners. BMP condition is based on the relative function of the primary processes by which treatment BMPs reduce, retain and/or remove pollutants from urban stormwater. BMP RAM includes 12 BMP types based on the physical configuration of the BMP and the process(es) relied upon for treatment. These 12 types of BMPs encompass the range of structural BMPs that that may be installed on public or private lands to treat stormwater (e.g., dry basins, roof gardens).
BMP RAM field observations are simple proxies to document the performance of a treatment process from a structural BMP and are adapted from existing USGS, NRCS, and USEPA protocols. These protocols are straightforward and can be carried out by an individual in 5-60 minutes, depending on the BMP type and its size. Based on the results of the observations, BMP RAM generates a meaningful 0 (worst) to 5 (best) RAM score that conveys the current condition of each BMP. The scoring algorithms are specific to each individual BMP and are based on actual field measurements taken immediately following construction or effective maintenance, rather than stock design standards. This allows for a direct comparison of field observations to achievable measurements, rather than a theoretical value that may not be as comparable to field measurements. Default values to trigger maintenance are provided based on available literature, but can be easily overridden based the user’s maintenance strategies. BMP RAM scoring occurs immediately upon completion of data entry. A simple red, yellow and green color scheme identifies BMPs with the highest maintenance priority, providing the user with on-the-spot information and immediate feedback to inform maintenance priorities and foster learning. Following maintenance, the same field protocols are repeated and used to document the improved condition and associated effectiveness of the BMP as a result of maintenance. BMP RAM outputs include maps, time series graphics, and downloadable spreadsheets for the user to identify maintenance priorities, evaluate the effectiveness of specific actions and complete spatial comparisons to inform watershed planning.
BMP RAM can be easily adapted for stormwater programs to verify NPDES permit compliance. In the Tahoe Basin, the Tahoe BMP RAM is the only tool explicitly named in the MS4 Phase II permit as an acceptable method for local municipalities to verify treatment BMP performance. Currently, 2NDNATURE is customizing the Central Coast BMP RAM to the meet the regulatory annual reporting requirement for local municipalities to meet their MS4 Phase II permit requirements.
The audience will be invited to experience the tool as sample BMPs are inventoried, scored, and compared in a spatial-temporal context.