MN Stormwater News — October 2017

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Fall 2017

Municipal program highlight: Cloquet

Downtown Cloquet, Minnesota

The City of Cloquet is cleverly using technology to make their stormwater pollution prevention program (SWPPP) more efficient. City staff answered our questions about how technology fits into their overall stormwater program management and reduces their administrative burdens.

Q: You’re managing and organizing your SWPPP with spreadsheets that track your progress toward your document goals and permit requirements. Tell us about it.

A: [We] use notes and hyperlinks within an Excel spreadsheet to organize records associated with the city’s MS4 permit. The spreadsheet works as a checklist where we record notes on progress to completing the tasks laid out in the MS4 permit. The notes include details on BMP sheet requirements, permit language, actions taken, etc. The hyperlinks connect to documents in our network that pertain to specific permit requirements and actions taken to meet that requirement, reducing the amount of time staff spend digging through electronic folders.

Q: How is this management system benefiting your stormwater program?

A: Setting up the spreadsheet required pulling together all the pieces of our MS4 permit in one place. Doing that helped us understand what's been included in Cloquet’s SWPPP and subsequent reauthorization. It also creates a template that can be reused annually to measure our progress toward goals and document changes we make to our SWPPP. This approach has been beneficial in collecting a wealth of information in one location.

Q: You also have a web-based mapping system fully integrated within your program. Is that making your stormwater program more efficient?

A: Our web-based GIS mapping system contains our inventory of stormwater facilities and their inspection records. Our public works crews can access all the information via mobile devices when they are making repairs or doing maintenance or inspections. They can locate stormwater infrastructure and understand its history and needs in real time in the field, making their work more efficient and our records better organized.

Q: What's your biggest obstacle to complying with MS4 requirements, and how did you overcome it?

A: One of the biggest challenges we face is the volume of information associated with our MS4 permit and trying to keep it organized. We have looked at software products that are designed for this purpose, but felt we wanted the flexibility to customize the type of information and how it is presented. So we developed this spreadsheet-based approach.

Q: How can other MS4 staff apply your ideas in their communities to further stormwater protection across the state?

A: We have provided a copy of the spreadsheet we use for other MS4s. They can see if they want to implement our techniques in their MS4 recordkeeping.

Image courtesy of Dave Fisher/Flickr