Meeting NPDES Permit Requirements in Burien, Washington

Faced with the challenge of implementing state-mandated stormwater permit regulations, the City of Burien, Washington, sought help in an automated solution to meet the looming National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) requirements.

Implemented in 2008, Cityworks was deployed in the Public Works department to manage stormwater assets and maintenance, and was initially targeted at meeting the permit requirements. Drawing on their GIS asset inventory, specific inspections, and work order templates, Cityworks quickly helped Burien attain more accurate and efficient stormwater management practices, well within the mandated time constraints. In early 2011, the city upgraded to the browser-based Cityworks Server AMS solution, enabling more staff in the office and in the field.

“Centralizing work activities and integrating them with GIS, Burien has been able to produce more accurate, timely, and up-to-date information on stormwater assets,” said Fernando Llamas Jr., GIS Analyst, City of Burien. “Duplication of effort has been reduced and we’re able to better utilize our maintenance crews, getting work done much more efficiently. We can also now perform data analysis that delivers standardized and reliable results.”

The Details
With Cityworks, Burien’s stormwater maintenance crews interact in real time with work orders in both the field and the office. As infrastructure assets are replaced or installed, they are flagged for edit in the GIS. While field maintenance crews view the asset data over reference maps on handheld devices, inspections and work performed is updated, and staff throughout the city has access to the most current information. More accurate data produces more reliable reports, allowing the city to easily justify the new system. Improved activity-based management helped mitigate liability as work can be easily tracked and substantiated.

“Increased access to real-time work information enables us to follow up with citizens faster and with proof that work was completed on a particular asset or at a specific location in the city,” said Llamas.

The Road to Cityworks
In 2007, the Washington State Department of Ecology published the NPDES Permit Requirements for municipalities. The purpose of the EPA permit is to mitigate the impact of water pollution by regulating and managing point sources that discharge pollutants into public waters. Like many cities, Burien quickly discovered its existing management system lacked the capabilities to meet the new standards.

Previous to Cityworks, Burien managed their infrastructure with a homegrown work management system. Asset data was collected on paper and then entered into an Access database. Meanwhile, staff was busy mapping the same asset features in the GIS.

“As the city grew and more assets were being mapped, the ability to create work orders, run inspections, and update the GIS data became far too cumbersome. The GIS software continued to get better through upgrades, creating the challenge of keeping our custom work management system up to speed.

“With a strong GIS background, naturally I was, and still am, a big proponent of GIS-centric solutions,” continued Llamas. “I had seen Cityworks, which is seamlessly interwoven with Esri’s ArcGIS, and was compelled to further investigate the solution. Initially, our biggest draw to the product was its interaction with the GIS database, resulting in no middle tier. We looked into other options, but in the end we felt confident Cityworks would meet our needs, approaching management with a sole source recommendation.”

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