Landing the 747: Transitioning from Big Picture Planning to On-the-Ground Actions

Date / Time:
Wednesday, Sep 14 11:00am to 12:05pm
Sunset III
Track / Session:
Municipal Stormwater Permit / Moving from Planning to Implementing
Short Description: 
Session focuses on how can cities successfully bridge the gap between planning analyses and individual project-level actions to rapidly achieve integrated water management and compliance objectives.

Many Southern California MS4 Permits require comprehensive planning documents to outline a pathway to TMDL compliance. These plans include complex watershed analyses that calculate the various programs necessary to meet the water quality improvement targets. Current estimates pin the cost of compliance at greater than $25B for the region. While these plans are comprehensive and represent our industry’s best large-scale planning effort to-date, they have two key limitations that are barriers to successful implementation: (1) they remain singularly focused on achieving water quality objectives and do not address integrated water management and (2) they lack the high resolution data necessary to make project-by-project decisions.

Upon the completion and approval of these plans, each municipality must find a way to successfully transition to the implementation phase – or “land the plane.” Such a transition will require key new datasets, strategic execution, and prioritization of activities in the face of challenging circumstances, including difficult near-term schedules and limited funding. This session will examine the following key question:

How can cities successfully bridge the gap between high-level, watershed-scale planning and individual project-level actions specifically designed to rapidly achieve integrated water management and compliance objectives?

Ultimately, this session will provide a forum to discuss the latest in ideas, technologies, and approaches that are helping cities make this transition. The discussion will also evaluate how meeting these challenges through innovation might be incorporated through adaptive management or incentivized in future versions of the permit.

While each of the four agencies participating in this session is separately responsible for their respective compliance actions, they share a common set of objectives that they see as necessary for transitioning from planning to execution:
• Create and make better use of high-quality data
• Create systems to accurately quantify the cost and benefits of proposed activities
• Assess planned activities in the context of other related objectives and programs (i.e., integrated water management)
• Evaluate the usefulness of technological advancement and consider its place in the permit
• Create and institutionalize an adaptive management framework

Over the course of the discussion each panel member will introduce a tool, idea, or concept that will serve as an example for how they are achieving the above objectives. The panel will engage the audience in an interactive conversation about the merits of each concept, building on specific project examples. The four following focus areas are proposed:
• Watershed Master Planning: Several agencies are investing in a two-step process to (1) develop high-resolution datasets to discover the prevalence of green infrastructure opportunities and (2) develop an evaluation framework that determines their integrated management value for prioritization
• Continuous Monitoring and Adaptive Control: Several agencies are finding that active control technologies allow them to reduce compliance costs, mitigate risks, and enable the achievement of integrated water management goals
• Adaptive Management: Saying “adaptive management” and actually managing adaptively are two different things. This part of the discussion includes a focus on specific practices that might facilitate and/or institutionalize the process
• Integration of Objectives: A key element of the initial transition from planning to activities is identifying those activities that meet multiple objectives. This part of the discussion will outline several examples for how this might be accomplished

This panel is prepared to actively support the theme of the conference by ensuring that the audience members understand the advantages and necessity of linking implementation activities to integrated water management objectives.

Primary Speaker:
Chad Helmle, Tetra Tech, Inc.
Supporting Speaker 1:
Grant Sharp, County of Orange | OC Public Works | OC Environmental Resources
Supporting Speaker 2:
Angela George, LA County Watershed Management