How Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District Optimizes Use of Monitoring Resources to Do What We Do Across 7,300 Square Miles
The Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District (District) serves as the Principal Permittee for three arid-region municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permits issued by three different California Regional Water Quality Control Boards. This responsibility requires the District to coordinate monitoring program implementation on behalf of the Permittees across an area of 7,300 square miles (e.g., nearly the size of the State of New Jersey). The District employs three different coordination approaches for each watershed monitoring program in order to succeed under the separate permit requirements. The District’s model program serves as an example to other agencies or organizations that may have untapped, talented and skilled resources at their fingertips while trying to meet the challenges of an arid region.
In a county where storms are difficult to predict and average annual precipitation varies from 3 inches (desert) to 30 inches (mountains), monitoring implementation takes creative thinking and planning. The arid to semi-arid climate, unique physical and political conditions of each watershed, and widely varying monitoring requirements under each MS4 permit create significant obstacles for the District. Additionally, each MS4 permit is subject to renewal every five years with overlapping permit terms between program areas, and monitoring requirements have been increasing in intensity and complexity with each permit renewal. Each watershed program faces varying resource constraints and priorities for its respective Permittee jurisdictions.
This presentation describes the challenges facing MS4 Permittees in Riverside County, relevant to other dischargers in arid regions, when responding to a complex, varying set of monitoring requirements, while seeking opportunity for inter- and intra-agency efficiency to meet program needs and gather the information needed to effectively manage surface water quality. The District leads the MS4 Permittees of Riverside County in facing these challenges head-on through effective planning (e.g., consolidated monitoring plan), a variety of watershed-specific coordination approaches, mobilization optimization, and real-time information technologies (e.g., paperless survey, GIS resources, and database upgrades) that best fit the needs of Permittees’ programs. The District supports the efforts of the programs by improving processes necessary to support management decisions within each region.
In large part the District accomplishes the monitoring in a unique fashion through participation from all Divisions within the agency. Program efficiency is accomplished by leveraging monitoring burdens and costs through cooperative agreements, regional partnerships, and specifically support of expert in-house staff. In-house staff consists of the Watershed Protection Division as well as support staff recruited through an out-of-the-box working culture that creates and incentivizes cross-departmental partnerships. This internal volunteer program is made possible through strong efforts of skilled interdisciplinary staff with the support of the District’s Division Managers and the District Chief. This presentation will provide recommendations and guidance to other agencies and organizations regarding how to advocate to their management to adopt a similar approach of self-implementation of monitoring efforts, as well as provide insight for programs that may be challenged by monitoring requirements in an arid region. The District leads the MS4 Permittees of Riverside County in facing monitoring challenges through effective planning that best fits the region-specific program needs and environment. Take a look at one of the most unique MS4 monitoring programs in California to see why we do what we do.