Climate Resilience Design and Engineering

Defining Scope and Goals

Crafting and implementing an Asset Management Plan (AMP) typically starts with establishing a strong understanding of what the assets of prime interest are, and what the plan seeks to achieve. Following a set of industry-established steps will help ensure that the key aspects of the AMP are considered up front, and that any unanswered questions are identified. The step below can be accomplished in any order, or at the same time.

Identify the Physical Scope

The scope of an Asset Management Plan (AMP) should identify stormwater assets for which the municipality is responsible, as well as those assets for which it may share responsibility. You should base your scope on a condition assessment and include both green and gray infrastructure. By undertaking this definition of the physical scope of your AMP, you will be able to more efficiently define each asset in detail when you build your asset inventory.

The scope should encompass all assets that must be inspected, maintained, and, over the long-term, repaired, rehabilitated, or replaced. To allow asset data to be analyzed, an AMP typically collects information on the following asset characteristics:

  1. Intent: runoff/flow control, conveyance, water quality treatment, or some combination of these
  2. Material/construction type: gray infrastructure (tanks, pipes, pump stations, flood control barriers) and natural materials (green infrastructure, preservation/enhancement of natural systems)
  3. Location/access: parcel-based and noting whether it is publicly accessible (infrastructure associated with a single-family parcel); infrastructure in the right-of-way or on a commercial site (porous pavement); underground in right-of-way or on a commercial site (vaults/pipes); end-of-pipe or on dedicated stormwater management tract (pond, swale, vault, outfall); large natural areas with limited access by equipment
  4. Specific type: catch basins, inlets, conveyance systems, stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) broken down by subtype (infiltration basin, bioretention system, grass swale)
  5. Failure impact: low, moderate, high

Identify the Primary Management Organization

Maintenance of gray stormwater infrastructure is typically the responsibility of the local departments of public works (DPW), but green infrastructure maintenance may fall to other entities due to the different expertise required for these systems. It is useful to identify the primary management entity for each stormwater asset and draft agreements to document future roles and responsibilities. An Asset Management Plan (AMP) for green infrastructure typically uses one or more of the four models below. In all cases, the local DPW is the administrative agency, but the responsibility for maintenance may vary.

Municipality/Agency Maintenance Program

The municipality/agency’s leadership establishes a maintenance program; trains and educates current maintenance staff on green infrastructure projects and the maintenance that they require; and defines the oversight authority for maintenance staff’s activities and responsibility for maintenance performance.

Contractor Maintenance Program

In this model, landscape contractors perform maintenance because green infrastructure maintenance activities are similar to grounds maintenance. The agency establishes maintenance contracts detailing specific maintenance activities and required frequencies, documentation of activities, protocol(s) for responding to work orders, and any other maintenance details.

Interagency Maintenance Program

The administrative agency and maintenance agency establish a memorandum of understanding that specifies roles and responsibilities for performing maintenance. The formal agreement should specify protocols for maintenance activities, describe the required frequency of activities, define the protocol for documenting activities, and identify the protocol for responding to work orders.

Non-Profit as Maintenance Entity

Similar to using a contractor to conduct maintenance, the administrative agency and the non-profit entity develop a contract that specifies roles and responsibilities. This model can be used in combination with a contractor or interagency agreement model.

Identify Goals (Level of Service)

A stormwater system’s identified Level of Service (LOS) represents the overall outcome that the community wants to achieve from expanded management of the stormwater assets. The minimum target LOS for a stormwater system is set by regulatory requirements (e.g., the municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permit, Federal Emergency Management Agency floodplains, Total Maximum Daily Loads, Clean Water Act Section 303d). For a stormwater system, LOS comprises:

  • Water quantity: clearance of all ponding or flooding within a specific number of hours after a defined (amount and duration) rain event
  • Water quantity: reduction of peak flow discharge to receiving waterways
  • Water quality: percentage of dissolved nitrogen or phosphorous at outfall
  • Customer service: number of flooding or ponding complaints received after a defined (amount and duration) rain event
  • Efficiency: minimizing costs associated with debris removal

The NJ Stormwater Best Management Practices Manual and NJDEP Stormwater Rules provide further information on setting LOS standards.

To the extent feasible, LOS goals should be "SMART" (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic or relevant, and time-bound). An example of a SMART goal would be "within the next 5 years the stormwater utility will reduce the average number of flooding or ponding complaint calls received within 24 hours after the end of a design storm by 20 percent." Defining SMART stormwater maintenance LOS goals can be a challenge because some jurisdictions may not have performance indicators in place to measure existing LOS. To address this hurdle, municipalities in the initial stages of AMP development should begin with simple LOS goals and expand only when solid performance indicators are available. Also review guidance in USEPA’s Asset Management for Sewer Collection Systems fact sheet on setting basic LOS goals.

Identify Funding

Establishing a consistent and stable stream of funding for the implementation of asset management planning is integral to developing successful, affordable programs to ensure optimal maintenance for stormwater infrastructure. The ongoing funding source may be used for both day-to-day operations and maintenance (O&M) and long-term capital improvements, both of which must be considered for an Asset Management Plan (AMP).

Local Funding

New Jersey communities fund stormwater management O&M through property taxes paid into their general funds. Appropriations are made from the general fund for a variety of projects. However, note that taxes are assessed for a broad range of purposes that may be tied to a host of regulatory and non regulatory requirements. Stormwater management funding is considered with other local priorities like police protection, fire suppression, schools, roads, and sanitary services. General funds available can fluctuate based on macro and regional economic circumstances.

Municipalities should evaluate long-term capital funding options through bonds. Note that these funding options may also be available for up-front capital costs, but the focus of this discussion is on long-term asset management rather than design and installation.

State Funding

In New Jersey, the Green Acres and Blue Acres programs fund acquisition of lands in floodways for recreation and conservation purposes; the Clean Water State Revolving Fund provides loans to finance projects that protect, maintain, and improve water quality; and the Nonpoint Source Management Program administers 319(h) grants for watershed restoration through watershed-based plans. In addition, the New Jersey Water Bank (NJWB) provides state funding and assistance for water infrastructure projects that enhance and protect ground and surface water resources.

This page was informed by these resources.