Climate Resilience Design and Engineering


Maintenance Training for Stormwater Utility Operations

Training for stormwater utility operations focuses on optimizing actions to support successful utility operations and stakeholder acceptance. Two important practices have been identified from the national experience in stormwater utility implementation that relate to utility operations. Recommended practices, which usually require staff to expand their skills through training, include:

  • Communicating often and with accurate information to build trust with the public
  • Proactive information maintenance (data management) to improve operational responsiveness

Stormwater utilities rely on an accurate assessment of properties with impervious surfaces from which the stormwater fee is calculated, including a determination of where rebates for disconnecting impervious surfaces or taking other stormwater management measures are eligible. In addition, budgeting the revenues derived from fees for system operations and maintenance (O&M) requires maintaining an accurate assessment of facilities and condition. The trust in and legitimacy that users perceive for the stormwater utility is a function of such property and facility information being maintained and updated on a timely basis, otherwise possible distortions can arise in both revenues and expenditures. This may also require training to optimize staff engagement with the public and local leaders.

In addition, other implementation factors may come into play:

  • The way we understand and are approaching stormwater management is changing in positive ways. New information is being developed about impacts and opportunities that stormwater creates for communities that may require organizational and operational changes affecting public works actions, especially intermunicipal functions. Learning new and effective ways to work together will likely involve training and adjustment of current practices.
  • The regulatory environment is dynamic. As the Clean Water Act, such as the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) requirements, total maximum daily load (TMDL) studies and combined sewer overflow (CSO) controls are progressively implemented, requirements for stormwater management will expand and involve new, specialized training.
  • Measuring Progress. It’s very important to measure the progress of a stormwater utility program, especially so that those served see the value of their investment, and to illustrate how well the program is working (for staff, elected officials, and community members). A number of program evaluation tools are available to help identify strengths and weaknesses in a program and where additional activities may be required.

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Stormwater Utility Guidance and Information

New Jersey DEP has developed a website to inform the public about the Clean Stormwater and Flood Reduction Act, what’s allowed and DEP’s relevant responsibilities under the new law, and a call for stakeholder involvement in DEP’s development of guidance. DEP will continue to update this website with additional information and guidance for stormwater utilities as it’s developed.

Visit the New Jersey DEP Stormwater Utilities website

Additional Future Stormwater Utility Training

As of 2020, a review of training options indicates that there are few online or in-person training classes that have been developed. New training will need to be drawn from developing experience and growing literature. Training topics relating to maintenance of stormwater utility operations should include new and expanding utility functions, such as:

  • Using emerging technologies to build low-cost, complex, and informed active control systems for stormwater systems that optimize existing infrastructure capacity and improve the performance of otherwise passive devices and structures
  • Creating and sharing operations and maintenance practices to monitor data and performance metrics for stormwater controls, characterize failure modes, and identify long-term maintenance needs and costs
  • Supporting and engaging stormwater managers and key staff in “twinning” exercises, whereby staff visit peer programs or exchange program staff to learn from on-the-ground experiences of other agencies

Due to the newness of many of these topics and stormwater functions, training might follow a blended learning approach that combines opportunities to study online with conference education, networking opportunities, and hands-on training.

Resources:

Water Environment Federation (2015). Rainfall to results: The future of stormwater [Online]. Retrieved from: https://wefstormwaterinstitute.org/rainfall-to-results/ (Accessed: 9 June 2020)

Disclaimer

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) does not in any way represent or endorse the programs listed, and is not advocating, soliciting or endorsing business for these programs. The training programs listed are intended to be a general guide for organizations interested in stormwater maintenance training and to highlight training options and opportunities so that organizations can make more informed decisions. Training opportunities presented here are representative and should not be considered an exhaustive list.

The Stormwater Maintenance Jobs Training Opportunities Tool (“the Tool”) was created to help direct you to relevant stormwater maintenance training options and training types, as listed on this website, based on your reported stormwater maintenance organization and operation and training needs. Please note that the Tool is limited in its ability to identify your exact stormwater maintenance training options and needs. It is recommended that you or a representative of your stormwater maintenance operation conduct further research as needed to determine whether a given training type is a good fit.