Stormwater Treatment Practice Maintenance Tracking Systems
A well-designed database integrates the elements of the stormwater maintenance program. While the specific architecture can range from a simple spreadsheet or "off-the-shelf" database up to a geographically-integrated system, some common information is needed for every system. This section answers some basic on types of systems available, information, and possible uses of the system:
What type of system
do I need to track STP Maintenance?
The answer to this question depends on the resources in your community, the number of STPs you need to track, and the ways you want to use the system. Although the specific software and equipment vary, systems can be grouped into three categories:
In these systems, the primary purpose of the database is to track simple text information. This is the least expensive option, because it can be accomplished with an off-the shelf database or spreadsheet program, and will not require hiring a computer consultant for specialized programming. The disadvantage to this system, however, is that documents such as certified as-built designs and graphics such as photographs need to be stored separately. These documents are very useful for inspections, and a separate storage system can make it more difficult and time consuming to retrieve these items. These simple systems are best suited to relatively small communities with perhaps one or two inspectors on staff.
Database with Graphic Links
These systems add to the traditional database or spreadsheet by allowing links to digital images, such as copies of as-built plans, photographs taken during inspections, and scanned maintenance agreements and performance bonds. This feature is useful, particularly when the system is designed so that inspectors can access this information remotely. Although these systems can use an off the shelf database as a platform, they typically require additional programming to link graphics seamlessly. In communities with many STPs in place, and more than one inspection team in the field at a time, the utility of linking these graphics to a database may outweigh the initial cost of developing the system.
Recently, GIS systems have become more easily adapted to being integrated with a database so that data records for each STP can be accessed visually through the GIS system. This feature adds another layer of complexity to the system, but can actually help simplify some other activities. For example, an inspector can easily call up the locations of nearby STPs from the field to conduct inspections with a geographic system. In addition, a watershed planner can easily query detailed information on systems within a given drainage area to prioritize retrofit opportunities.
What information should I store in the system?
The system should be able to track basic design information, data from inspection reports, at a minimum. In addition, the system may be able to provide links to important documents associated with the STPs.
Basic Design Information
The fields described here record basic information about the location and simple design information, as well as information about records such as the as-built design and maintenance agreement. More detailed design and structural information can be recorded explicitly as well.
|Basic Design Information|
|Facility Code||ID number unique to an individual STP.|
|Project Code||Code used to characterize a development project.|
|Location||Map coordinates, GPS coordinates, or street address.|
|Watershed||Location by watershed or subwatershed code.|
|Contractor||Name and address of contractor who constructed the STP.|
|Owner||Name of entity responsible for maintenance.|
|Maintenance Agreement||ID # or link to document.|
|Design Approval||Agency approving initial design.|
|Design Date||Date approved.|
|As-Built||Minimum of a code to get to actual as-built design. Can link to an actual graphic of the as-built design.|
|Purpose of Facility||Recharge, water quality, channel protection, flood control, and / or pretreatment.|
|STP Group||Pond, wetland, infiltration practice, filtering system, or open channel.|
|STP Design Type||Specific design (e.g., pocket pond or perimeter sand filter)|
|Drainage Area||Drainage area to the facility in cubic feet. Ideally, could link to site plan.|
|Pre-Developed Land Use||Land use and impervious cover in the drainage area both before and after development. In the most advanced database, could link to actual digital site plans.|
|Impervious Cover (Pre-)|
|Post-Developed Land Use|
|Impervious Cover (Post-)|
|Wet Storage||Volume in cubic feet or acre-feet.|
|Dry Storage||Volume in cubic feet or acre-feet.|
|Design Storms||List of storms design for, (e.g., 1-year extended detention, 10-year post- to pre-, 100-year post- to pre)|
|Maintenance Access||Method and easement ID # or code|
|Structure Data||(see below)|
Specific design characteristics of the structure can also be recorded as fields in the database, and also specified in the as-built plans for the structure. These data can be a useful quick glance for inspectors to track the performance of specific design traits over time.
|System Structure Data|
|Risers||Material (e.g., CMP, concrete, masonry)|
|Barrel||Size and material|
|Trash Racks||Presence or absence and type|
|Observation Wells||Number and Material|
|Underdrains||Number and material|
|Valves||Number, design diameter|
|Elbows||Presence or absence|
|Pretreatment||Method (e.g., forebay, sediment chamber) and volume|
|Inflows||Number and diameter|
Maintenance and Inspection Information
The tracking system should have records of when inspections have occurred, the maintenance activities recommended at each inspection, and the dates when maintenance occurred. In addition, the database should store information about the functionality of the STP, regardless of whether maintenance has taken place. The Maintenance Inspection Checklists should be integrated with the tracking system so that detailed inspection information can be tracked over time. All of the fields provided on these inspection forms will vary by STP type. Ideally, fields should be in a numeric format as presented on the checklists. This structure allows stormwater managers to query the database more easily than handwritten notes about the condition of the STP.
|Maintenance and Inspection Tracking Information|
|Inspection Date||Tracks the date of each inspection.|
|Inspectors||For each inspection, names of inspectors.|
|Photographs||List of photographs taken, and location reference for stored photographs. Can link to digital photographs.|
|Immediate Repairs Needed||List of repairs that must be completed immediately, particularly due to hazardous conditions (e.g., potential embankment failure or missing manhole).|
|Routine Maintenance Items||List of items.|
|Items to Monitor||List of items that do not currently present a problem, but should be monitored over time.|
|Deadline for Repairs||For each item.|
|Contractor Hired for Repair||For each item.|
|Date of Repair||For each item.|
|Redline Markup||In a more advanced system, an actual scanned picture of a marked-up plan can be incorporated and provided to the individual charged with repairing the STP, or inspecting it at a later date.|
|Cost of Maintenance||Track the cost of maintenance activities as they occur.|
Links to Other Documents and Graphics
Important documents such as the following can be stored as graphics files and linked to the database:
What Are Some Uses of the System?
Goal 1. Provide an Inventory of Existing Facilities
Currently, very few communities have accurate information on the number and type of STPs they have. It is less common to find documentation of basic design traits needed to evaluate the actual level of treatment in a watershed, or the maintenance history of the STPs. With recent technology, the location can be directly linked with a GIS system so that STPs can be located visually.
Goal 2. Track Maintenance and Inspection
Another major goal of the database is to track inspection and maintenance activities over time. The database should track when inspections have occurred, the maintenance activities recommended at each inspection, and the dates when maintenance occurred. In addition, the database should record information about the functionality of the STP, regardless of whether maintenance has taken place. The Maintenance Inspection Checklists provided on the website can be integrated with the tracking system so that detailed inspection information can be tracked over time. All of the fields provided on these inspection forms will vary by STP type.
Goal 3. Streamline the Inspection and Maintenance Process
Over time, ensuring that maintenance activities occur can become cumbersome, particularly in a large community. Examples of the somewhat repetitive tasks include:
- Deploying staff to inspect STPs
- Scheduling maintenance activities
- Sending out notices to practice owners that maintenance needs to be conducted.
- Sending out reminders that inspections will occur
- Sending out notices of enforcement
The information in the database, including the owner's address, maintenance activities, inspection dates, and record of inspection activities, can be integrated to automate these processes. For example, the tracking system could produce a monthly list of STPs that need to be inspected. In addition, form letters for maintenance reminders or notices of enforcement may be produced automatically based on the last date of inspection, the list of items to repair at the last date of inspection, the date by which repairs need to be made, and/or the items demonstrated to be repaired by the STP owner.
Goal 4. Provide Documentation for Legal Action
Communities typically try to avoid taking anyone to court if it can possibly be avoided. However, in cases where legal action is needed to address a persistent problem, past agreements, notices, and other legal documentation are needed to justify any action. Examples include:
There are two ways that a database can be used to retrieve these documents. In a simple system, the database would contain codes used to reference paper documents filed with the community. However, as communities begin to store large amounts of information, it becomes more cost-effective for the database to store digital versions of these documents.
Goal 5. Relate Design Traits to Practice Performance
Although many stormwater practices are in the ground across the country, that huge laboratory cannot be tapped for information about how to design practices better unless it is stored in a consistent manner. The system should include design information obtained both during the design phase and during subsequent inspections about materials, design parameters, and other pertinent information. Examples include: size and type of pretreatment, material of the riser, length to width ratio, and other specific design parameters.
With this information in hand, a community can search the database to determine, for example, the amount of times a pond needs to be dredged versus the presence of a forebay. In a system includes a GIS component, these traits could even be linked with in-stream habitat or water quality condition assessments.
Goal 6. Use as a Tool to Develop Program Cost Estimates
Communities need to decide whether maintenance will be performed by the community itself, or by individual STP owners. Information contained in the tracking system can help to estimate the total maintenance burden for STPs located within a community. At a minimum, the system will contain information about the number and type of STPs. Supplemental information about the storage available and design parameters of these STPs may help to refine these estimates. Further inspection information regarding the condition of each STP can help estimate the total cost needed to get STPs back up to specifications. Finally, data on frequency of repair, and costs for specific repair items can help to develop very detailed estimates of the total cost of maintenance in a community.
A community may require an individual STP owner to provide cost estimates regarding the cost of specific maintenance activities. This information could then be aggregated to determine typical annual maintenance activities for a wet pond, for example. Cost information and data regarding the frequency of repair can be used to develop realistic cost estimates for the STP owner.
Goal 7. Identify Future STP Retrofit Opportunities
Stormwater management is a relatively new science, and a majority of development has occurred without adequate water quality or channel protection measures in place, or with out-of date design characteristics. In the process of stormwater retrofitting, a community will revisit and modify these STPs to better protect downstream resources.
A first phase of the retrofitting process is to identify STPs within a watershed, the drainage area and land use to each practice, and the type of STP. Based on later field visits, designers typically try to obtain detailed site plans and design drawings to develop more detailed designs. The process of gathering information is often time-consuming, and involves integrating watershed maps with existing records on STP locations.
The data in the tracking system, particularly if coded by watershed, can provide a quick list of potential retrofits sites to the designer, as well as drainage areas and probable available storage. In a more advanced system, detailed design drawings can be obtained easily, streamlining the second phase in the retrofit process. If the tracking system is integrated with a GIS system, a designer can more easily automate the location of STPs, or use the system to select STPs draining to a particular reach of stream.