Data collection and reporting requirements for stormwater discharge permits have evolved over time to be increasingly voluminous and encompassing.
Since the first, modern-day stormwater discharge permits were issued in the 1990s under the federal National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), the scope and scale of stormwater permitting programs have dramatically increased.
Today, dischargers are required to report on many disparate aspects of their core operations, from their monitoring programs to effluent limitations to TMDLs (total maximum daily loads). While each SMC regulated agency spends many hundreds of hours compiling these data sets, the data sets are not typically presented in interactive, readily accessible formats.
Consequently, the visibility and utility of these data analyses are limited – both for upper-level management and regulatory agency staff who receive these reports, as well as the public.
The SMC recognizes that while all of these diverse, wide-ranging data sets can shed light on the progress being made by Southern California’s stormwater dischargers – as well as the challenges they face – not all of these data analyses have equal value for telling the stories that stormwater managers most want to tell.
The SMC’s Streamlining Annual Reporting project is revisiting and critically reexamining the scope of dischargers’ reporting requirements, with a goal to prioritize which types of data analyses are the most valuable and insightful for communicating the status of stormwater management activities in Southern California.
Upon these shared priorities, the SMC will build frameworks and blueprints for how Southern California can fundamentally reimagine how dischargers approach reporting data each year.
At the same time, the project will not explicitly answer the question of whether existing permit reporting requirements can be modified. This decision ultimately would rest with the regulatory agencies responsible for writing and issuing discharge permits. Rather, the project is working toward creating a tangible vision for how dischargers can use high-priority data sets to tell more impactful, relevant stories about how runoff is managed across Southern California, and about the health of the region’s aquatic ecosystems across time and space.