The Quest to be a Compliant, Efficient, and Cost-Effective Stormwater Program
The quest to be a compliant, efficient and cost-effective stormwater program.
The implementation costs for the City of Salinas FY16/17 stormwater program were $6.7M; this included an annual report with over 2,800 pages of lists, tables, narratives and static maps taking over 500 hours of staff time to compile. In the end, the massive reporting requirements allowed little time for data analysis or program effectiveness evaluation. These massive stormwater reporting practices are not unique to Salinas, and through collaboration and cooperation across the region, with active involvement by the Central Coast Water Board, the City is working to change these norms. Rather than expending excess resources to compile data in huge documents that sit on a shelf, the City of Salinas has been working with “fit for purpose” geospatial decision support tools developed by 2NDNATURE to reduce our annual report size and compilation time. The 2NFORM platform is a comprehensive data management system where all City records and results are locked when annual reporting is due. Regional Board Staff are provided read-only access to the City-saved records to review program actions, evaluate progress and inspect records to evaluate compliance.
The spatially explicit foundation of 2NFORM integrates City topography and our storm drain network to spatially link the urban landscape to the receiving waters to which it drains. This watershed context helps make better decisions regarding how BMPs in the City may influence improvements to receiving water quality relevant to TMDL requirements. Conducting standardized inspections using mobile applications has eliminated costs and errors common with field data sheets and manual entry. Plus, all data is managed in a geospatial database so results are easy to locate, review, and analyze. Our adoption of Parcel RAM to track post-construction projects from permitting to inspections to final has simplified staff workflows and provided the information management system required by our NPDES permit. The use of BMP RAM has allowed us to inventory and assess over 300 structural BMPs on private and public lands and readily identify which require maintenance to restore the water quality benefits intended. This information can be assimilated into capital improvement projects for submittal during budgeting process. We see BMP RAM as an asset management system for maintenance of the structural BMPs within the City and an aid to our department to plan and communicate corrective actions needs and explore retrofit opportunities.
2NFORM also provides us with estimates of the average annual volume and pollutant loading to each receiving water body that have helped our planning strategy regarding where to focus future stormwater activities or projects and quantify their effectiveness. With the trash requirements pending, 2NFORM provides us with a simple and practical method to track and report each acre PLU where we have achieved full trash capture either via structural or non-structural controls. The 2NFORM mobile applications allow us efficiently complete trash assessments providing us actionable data regarding where our hotspots are, and if our controls are effective. We identify which structural BMPs are or can be retrofit into Full Trash Capture Devices (FCD). The ability to delineate the treated drainage of each FCD within the City provides us with a mapped record of the PLU areas treated by a FCD. We enter the inspection frequency for each FCD and the 2NFORM “to do list” helps us manage these workflows to ensure our success. While refinements to this process and supporting tools are ongoing, we feel our program is collecting more useful data and allowing for more efficient assessments. We can view our program priorities and implementation progress using transparent mapped views of our City and provide straightforward narratives that are easy to communicate to management, elected officials, public and our regula
Nicole Beck is the founder of 2NDNATURE, a certified woman-owned small business. She has a Ph.D. in Aquatic Chemistry and a Master’s in Environmental Toxicology. Nicole has dedicated her professional career to bringing science to policy and decision makers. She is intrigued with the development of data collection and reporting programs that facilitate a simple, but accurate and motivating summary of the environmental or ecological benefits from effective management actions.