So Cal Stormwater Monitoring Coalition’s Vision for the Future: The 2020-2024 Research Agenda
The Southern California Stormwater Monitoring Coalition's (SMC) mission is to collaboratively conduct the research necessary to improve stormwater management. This multi-agency organization is composed of eight Southern California counties and cities, three California Regional Water Boards, the State Water Resources Control Board, Caltrans, the U.S. EPA, and SCCWRP.
To date, the SMC has funded and completed more than 27 research projects valued at $17 million. Virtually every project has resulted in a management action and half of the effort was leveraged non-member in-kind resources, underscoring the impact and value of its collaborative research.
Recognizing that collaboration is foundational to the SMC’s enduring success, the original SMC Master Agreement has been renewed three times, providing the framework for the SMC’s interactions and the ability to add a long-term research perspective to ongoing stormwater management needs. The newest Master Agreement, spanning five years, called for the development of a forward-looking Research Agenda to guide the SMC’s priorities and directions through 2024.
The 2020 Research Agenda was developed by an external panel of seven nationally-recognized knowledge leaders in their respective disciplines (chemistry, ecology, microbiology, hydrology, best management practices [BMPs], monitoring, and information technology), and three local experts (a regulated municipality, a regulatory agency, and a non-governmental environmental advocacy organization). The panel met for 3 days in November 2019, developed 64 project concepts, and then finalized 24 priority projects organized into six thematic areas:
● Microbiology and Human Health Risk (4 projects): These projects focus on improving the SMC’s capability and capacity to quantify and protect human health, primarily during water-contact recreation. The projects are intended to help SMC members move away from their reliance on traditional fecal indicator bacteria (i.e., Enterococcus, E. coli, coliforms), which offer limited and incomplete insights into health risks associated with water-contact recreation, and toward standardizing next-generation technologies.
● BMP Monitoring, Implementation and Effectiveness (5 projects): These projects focus on filling fundamental, essential knowledge gaps in managers’ understanding of stormwater BMP design, monitoring and lifecycle performance. The projects are wide-ranging, from improving fundamental understanding of BMP mechanisms and processes that can inform BMP selection, design and standardization, to an integrated and coordinated regionwide monitoring of BMP installations.
● Innovative Technology and Science Communication (4 projects): These projects focus on turning data into information and insights that SMC members can use for management, modeling and reporting, as well as to improve data-sharing among SMC member agencies.
● Expanding the Utility of Biomonitoring (4 projects): With biological monitoring becoming an increasingly insightful and foundational line of evidence for tracking ecosystem health, there is a need for more focus on extracting managerially-relevant insights from biomonitoring to better understand stormwater impacts on receiving water quality.
● Improving Stormwater Monitoring Effectiveness (5 projects): These projects focus on evaluating monitoring efforts by SMC member agencies to ensure they are optimally responsive, relevant, and useful to managers and other stakeholders.
● Emerging Challenges (4 projects): These projects focus on improving the foundational understanding of up-and-coming issues, which are likely to become front and center for SMC member agencies over the long term, including trash, climate change, emerging pollutants, and homelessness impacts.
The SMC is now selecting their initial list of highest-priority projects for funding, and open to project partners and collaborators.