Why the SMC developed streamlined annual reporting approach

The analyses and visualizations of key stormwater data sets that were developed through the SMC’s Streamlining Annual Reporting project extend the value of dischargers’ data by providing a more insightful, accessible picture about the effectiveness of their stormwater management practices and the health of water resources in Southern California.

The SMC was motivated to tackle this project because of the scope and complexity of modern compliance reporting requirements.

Today, dischargers are required to report on many disparate aspects of their core operations, from receiving-water quality to effluent limitations to TMDLs (total maximum daily loads).

Although the SMC recognizes that these diverse, wide-ranging data sets are important for monitoring the progress and challenges faced by Southern California’s stormwater dischargers, not all of these data analyses have equal value for telling the stories that stormwater managers most want to tell.

Furthermore, the compiled data sets are not typically presented in interactive, readily accessible formats, despite the many hundreds of hours that SMC regulated agency spends compiling these data sets. As a result, the visibility and utility of these data analyses are limited – for upper-level management and boards, for regulatory agency staff who receive these reports, and for the public. 

Data reporting requirements also differ across the permits that California’s Regional Water Quality Control Boards issue to individual dischargers, with variations in nomenclature and different requirements for what and how to report data.

Both the SMC’s regulated and regulatory members agreed that the three types of data that have been incorporated into the SMC’s new reporting tools – receiving water assessments, discharge assessments, and flow/volume assessments – are insightful, “high-value” performance measures worth highlighting.

Over the past three years, the SMC reached agreement about how these assessments should be standardized and presented, then developed a web-based platform that automates the process of analyzing and visualizing the assessments.