Going Digital: Utilizing Technology to Prioritize and Cost Effectively Maintain Stormwater Infrastructure

Date / Time:
Wednesday, Sep 16 9:30am to 10:00am
Track / Session:
Track: Data Management, GIS / GIS Tools, and Modeling / Session 5

The City of San Diego (City) is responsible for maintaining approximately 132 miles of channels and 55,000 structures that convey stormwater from local neighborhoods to the Pacific Ocean. A significant portion of these facilities requires periodic maintenance to remove accumulated vegetation, sediment, and trash that reduce hydraulic capacity, increase flood risks and pose a threat to property and human life.

In accordance with the City’s upcoming Municipal Waterways Maintenance Plan (MWMP), data is collected for these facilities through annual inspections. Collected data is used to inform a prioritization effort that aims to define annual routine maintenance and repair efforts for O&M staff. City-owned channels, basins, and structures are prioritized through a maintenance benefit analysis that considers existing channel conditions, public input, and a desktop hydrologic and hydraulic (H&H) analysis.

The purpose of this presentation is to introduce the City’s innovative approach in streamlining annual channel inspections and prioritization efforts through a digital data collection platform that utilizes ESRI Collector. Traditionally, channel inspection data were collected by using paper forms that needed to be manually digitized. Data from these forms were then entered into a separate platform in order to complete the maintenance prioritization analysis.
In 2020, the City embarked on an effort to utilize ESRI Collector to gather inspection data into a centralized project dashboard. This user-friendly approach allowed for the consolidation of historical data, as well as automation of the maintenance prioritization analysis. Furthermore, the City has benefited from live data tracking by using channel inspection data to deploy O&M staff to identify and perform crucial and time-sensitive maintenance efforts with minimal lead time. By coupling live GIS data tracking, historical data and the MWMP prioritization methodology, the City is now able to holistically manage engineering and O&M work assignments in an adaptive manner.

The presentation will allow audience members to apply the following concepts:
• Identify trends in municipal open channel maintenance data to develop holistic prioritization strategies that enhance operational efforts and reduce program costs, and
• Identify software and hardware needs in order to transition from manual task delegation and data collection to an automated and efficient process.

The presentation will include an informational video and a live demonstration of the GIS Collector application. This will allow for direct audience engagement in a demonstration of how data points are collected and then transmitted to a centralized database dashboard. The audience will then be presented with a brief summary of how digital data collection and automated asset condition prioritization can apply to other unique stormwater management goals.

The presentation aligns with the conference’s “envision the future of stormwater” theme by discussing a cost-effective technology that is available to a wide-ranging audience. Participants will be able to walk away with knowledge of an efficient and inexpensive workflow for gathering stormwater asset data, as well as the ability to automatically generate and assign work for O&M staff. These types of data collection and analysis tools are paramount to evaluating municipal programs’ compliance with regulatory requirements and progress being made towards other water quality improvement goals.

Primary Speaker:
Bethany Bezak, City of San Diego
Bethany Bezak is the Assistant Deputy Director for the City of San Diego’s Transportation and Storm Water Department, where she is responsible for leading the City’s Operations and Maintenance teams for watershed protection and flood prevention. Ms. Bezak has experience working in the public and private sectors and strives to implement practical and implementable solutions in the urban environment. Ms. Bezak has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Master of Science in Biological Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech. She is a registered Professional Engineer and a LEED AP.
Supporting Speaker 1:
Christy Villa, Villa Civil
As CEO and Principal Engineer of Villa Civil, Ms. Villa brings 17 years of experience in public works with an emphasis in planning and design of stormwater, active transportation, and green street infrastructure projects. Serving as a design engineer and project manager for a diverse range of projects within the San Diego region, she has an extensive understanding of municipal and public works programs.