Harnessing the Cloud: Tracking and Assessing Watershed Management Programs with Web-Based Reporting Systems
For the past four years, MS4s in the Los Angeles County have been developing Enhanced Watershed Management Programs and Watershed Management Programs (E/WMPs) to address the receiving water limitations provisions of the MS4 Permit. A total of 19 E/WMPs were approved by the Regional Board, and these E/WMPs illustrate the path forward for MS4s under the BMP-based compliance provisions of the Permit. With approval of the E/WMPs, the region now faces a sea change in the organization and content of annual reports. First, while under the previous Permit reporting was County-wide and led by the Los Angeles County Flood Control District, moving forward annual reporting will be watershed-based and led by each individual E/WMP Group (i.e., 19 annual reports instead of one annual report). Second, the new reporting requirements include detailed questions regarding the assessment of effectiveness of the E/WMPs, including quantification of the volumes of stormwater being retained by implemented BMPs and analysis of trends and exceedances documented by water quality monitoring programs. Finally, the annual reports have become the centerpiece of compliance determination, now that E/WMPs have developed clear milestones for BMP implementation and pollutant reduction.
Given the complexity of the new annual reporting requirements, coupled with the fact that Watershed Leads are now responsible for annual reporting, web-based systems have become an important tool to support MS4 programs. The City of Los Angeles is the Watershed Lead for four EWMPs with over 30 participating agencies. The City has developed an innovative web-based module to facilitate consistent reporting among the participating agencies and to have the ability to “roll up” reported information into a watershed-based report. The Annual Reporting Module has digitized an annual reporting template developed by the Regional Board, in order to allow participating agencies to enter their reporting data and store the data in the cloud (Amazon Web Services). The Annual Reporting Module also “rolls up” the submitted information to create a watershed-based report that reflects the efforts of all the participating agencies. The Module generates the PDF and Word documents that can be used by City staff to generate watershed-based annual reports. All of the components of the web-based system are open-domain and open-source, providing a transparent and easy-to-use framework. The long-term vision is to collaborate with other agencies in the region and have the Annual Reporting Module be one of several modules within a region-wide system that supports E/WMP tracking and reporting, with future modules potentially focused on stormwater capture and BMP planning. This presentation will provide a background on the reporting requirements of the Permit and E/WMPs, conduct a demo of the Annual Reporting Module, and discuss the application of the module. This presentation will be interesting to a wide array of agencies including stormwater agencies, regulatory agencies, non-governmental agencies and the private sector.