Improving Stormwater Management through Integration of Environmental Data, Asset Maintenance, and Workflows
Stormwater management is concerned with a complex system of pollution sources, built and natural infrastructure assets, diverse stakeholders, and numerous programs for pollution prevention and treatment. Each component of this system is further associated with spatially distributed and time varying data sets, people, analytical tools, and monitoring, inspection, or maintenance activities.
In reality, the practice of stormwater management has remained highly fragmented. MS4 programs, along with their data, staff, and activities are by and large managed in their own “silos.” This mismatch – the fragmented management of an integrated, systemic problem – is a major contributor to the increasing costs and challenges in developing stormwater management strategies that meet the dual objectives of permit compliance and cost-effectiveness of outcomes (water quality).
Further compounding these challenges is the pervasive use of technologies and tools that:
• Make it nearly impossible for organizations to break down operational silos.
• Lead to increased dependence on manual efforts, e.g., for data handling, preparing reports, and lots of time spent in meetings.
Examples such technologies and tools include the use of paper forms for field data recording, data storage in Excel/Access, legacy asset management systems, and GIS software. GIS is a technology designed for creating, editing, and managing spatial content. Using GIS as the primary stormwater management tool will force everything you do within the silo of spatial content.
CATCH BASIN EXAMPLE
Currently, the management of storm drain catch basins (CB) and related drainage facilities of an MS4 that either affects or are affected by catchbasins is highly fragmented. For example, catchment hydrologic characteristics (and potential modifications), the programmatic activities taking place within the catchments (e.g., street sweeping, landscape management, etc.), the condition and maintenance status of CBs, the condition of stormdrain infrastructure, inspections and maintenance of outfalls, and the quantity and quality of water discharged into receiving waters are by and large handled autonomously and separately.
Further, each component of the CB value chain is managed relatively independently by different teams, e.g., stormwater and other internal departments (public works), consultants, copermittees, regulators, owners/managers of facilities and construction sites, etc.
Typically the only time all the inter-related data, activities, and people come together is at the time of annual compliance reporting. A significant effort by staff and consultants is required to bring this about, involving a lot of manual work and people interactions (meetings) all of which results in increasing the costs of permit compliance.
To explore potential solutions to these problems, the County of Orange and EcoLayers undertook a pilot project which set up a software environment for the holistic/integrated management of all aspects of one class of stormwater program assets – catchbasins.
The software addresses the problems discussed above through one or more of the following mechanisms:
• Integration of diverse data sets (inventories, watershed characteristics, inspections/maintenance, and environmental monitoring), processes, analysis, workflows, and stakeholders involved with CB management.
• Reduce people touch-points. Information exchange or task “hand-offs” occurs online, reducing or eliminating the need for meetings, emails, and other forms of manual interactions.
• Automate routine activities that are currently being done manually.
• Improve decision making ability (e.g., prioritize activities based on an assessment of the MS4 asset/facility and its impact on potential outcomes).
• Simplify and automate reporting.
The presentation will describe the design and implementation of this project, results, and future recommendation