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Applying an Asset Management Program to Storm Water and Watershed Strategic Business Planning and Management

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In 2008, the City of San Diego re-organized its storm water Division to respond to a new National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit regulating discharges into and from its Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4). This reorganization increased the size of the Storm Water Division (Division) by more than 4?fold and brought numerous operations previously under other Division management into the Division, such as storm drain operations and maintenance and street sweeping. The storm water Division grew from being an organization primarily responsible for NPDES compliance program management and reporting to a Division responsible for managing city drainage and flood control systems.

Concurrently, the City of San Diego began to transition to a zero-based budgeting approach. In this new framework, there were no historical budgets upon which future storm water Division budgets could be based. Instead, Division staff are required to show justifications for each budget dollar requested each year.

In response to these fundamental changes, the City storm water Division developed an asset management program for managing storm water Division activities. This asset management program defined each activity the Division needed to conduct as a level of service they were required to meet either under their NPDES permit, or through the expectations of citizens regarding functions of the storm drain system and the quality of water and related services to be maintained in streams, estuaries, and at beaches. This program provided a clear relationship between services enjoyed by the citizens of San Diego that were provided by the receiving waters and drainage system and the funding needs of the Division. This relationship allowed the City to make rational budgeting decisions for this program and provided transparency for elected officials and citizens.

The application of asset management to storm water and watershed management, based on this case study, is a way to successfully optimize use of resources, integrate municipal flood control and storm water quality management, transparently justify funding requirements and management decisions, and build and transform an organization into one that can sustainably manage storm water quality and drainage on behalf of a municipality's residents, businesses and other customers. EPA's Office of Wastewater Management Asset Management Program was consulted during the process and endorsed the City's process in applying asset management to storm water management.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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