Standardized MS4 Monitoring Programs

Standardized MS4 Monitoring Program Summary
Lead Agency Ventura County Watershed Protection District
Technical Lead Arne Anselm
Key Words: regional comparability, standardized monitoring

In May 2012, the SMC held a workshop to identify the similarities and differences in stormwater monitoring among member agencies. The ultimate outcome was that existing SMC member agency monitoring and reporting requirements were inconsistent, leading to incompatible sampling programs and incomparable data and information across programs. The result is a large potential for redundancy, inefficiency, and ineffective outcomes. This is exacerbated by our already limited resources for assessing receiving water environmental health and end-of-pipe compliance.

The technical report developed from the workshop findings established a resource guidance document for stormwater monitoring programs. Likewise, the workshop helped to further highlight the many barriers that program manager faces in implementing changes in established monitoring programs. These barriers are coupled with agencies having limited resources, a need to navigate numerous practical considerations and a need to continue existing trend monitoring designs. All of these considerations lead to the workshop concluding that development an effective stormwater monitoring guidance document intended to create regional consistency will require the collaboration and inputs from stormwater agencies and the Regional Water Quality Control Boards. The guidance document is perceived as providing value as a resource for writing and renewing permits, planning or negotiation monitoring requirements during permit renewals, and providing a consistent technical foundation when planning special studies or TMDL monitoring programs.

Objectives and Products:

The technical report from the May 2012 workshop included a series of recommendations on next steps for creating an effective stormwater monitoring guidance manual. The next steps include the SMC members endorsing several foundational management questions to serve as a starting point for creating greater regional comparability namely:

  • Identify and prioritize management questions.
  • Identify scales (regional, local) and runoff types (dry, wet) that apply to each management question.
  • Identify factors that impede addressing each of the management questions. This is likely where the survey and workshop outcomes described in this report will be most helpful.
  • Develop stormwater monitoring guidance that addresses the specific needs of each management question, including the concept of a minimum set of requirements that all SMC member agencies would hold in common.

The goal of this planned SMC project is to develop a uniform monitoring approach that will lead to regional consistency in demonstrating trends, identifying stressors, identifying sources and evaluating effectiveness of management measures. The standardized MS4 monitoring program project is intended to be model guidance for adoption by stormwater NPDES permit monitoring and reporting programs, through consideration of the following:

  • Monitoring questions
  • Design criteria
  • Sampling and analysis protocols and methods
  • Database and QA/QC rules
  • Reporting formats

It is anticipated that the sampling approach will contain the three-part model framework developed by the SMC which including core monitoring, regional monitoring, and special studies. After the first iteration of the model program, SMC member agencies should evaluate the efficacy of the monitoring recommendations, and update model program requirements as needed.

6.1.1    Project Related Publications

  • Sercu, B., Anselm, A., Schiff, K. “Regional Stormwater Monitoring Coalition and Evaluation: Survey, Workshop, and Research Priorities.” Southern California Stormwater Monitoring Coalition. January 2013.
  • Bernstein, B.B.; et. al. “Model Monitoring Program for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems in Southern California.” Southern California Stormwater Monitoring Coalition. August 2004.