The San Diego Region municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permit regulates stormwater runoff from urbanized areas and requires watersheds to design and implement a Water Quality Improvement Plan (WQIP). South Orange County is in the process of implementing its WQIP, which identifies high priority water quality conditions and sets goals, strategies, and schedules to address them.
The County is focusing their efforts on water quality conditions that will have the greatest impact on overall water quality, including; health risks from human pathogens in waterways, stream erosion, and dry weather runoff that alters the natural water balance. To meet the WQIP milestones, municipal executive and elected officials must invest in projects and programs that maximize the benefits achieved.
Environmental Incentives is helping the County define performance measures that enable copermittees to maximize water quality benefits achieved with current funds and earn credit for their programmatic activities and structural projects. WQIP managers are also using performance measures to engage copermittees and streamline their annual monitoring and reporting requirements.
Tracking progress toward milestones is often accomplished through monitoring, which can require years of data to establish trends and can be difficult to attribute results to specific activities. Performance measures create a meaningful link between specific structural and non-structural control strategies and water quality goals and estimate benefits consistently across different strategies.
WQIP managers can use performance measures to accelerate progress already underway and gain further support for implementation. The Orange County WQIP performance measures are expected to help demonstrate progress to regulators, funders, and the public and help WQIIP managers evaluate the cost-effectiveness of each project. Performance measures also open the door for the County to leverage performance contracts, public-private partnerships, and other innovative procurement strategies to achieve water quality goals.