A seven-year EPA audit showed CDOT that they needed a better stormwater management solution. They found 2NFORM, which is revolutionizing their construction site inspections — and helping them plan for the future, using built-in predictive analytics.
Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT)
Jean Cordova, Water Quality Section Manager, CDOT
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) builds and maintains the state’s highway systems. With over 23,000 lane miles of highway, on which vehicles travel over 28 billion miles each year, CDOT must manage several facilities, hundreds of permanent water quality assets, hundreds of construction sites, and thousands of outfalls across the state — a huge job.
A Seven Year EPA MS4 Audit
In 2015, CDOT knew their MS4 permit from the state was set to expire. They were preparing for the new permit when they got hit with an EPA audit. Jean Cordova, Water Quality Section Manager, inherited the audit in 2017 when she came onboard and submitted final audit responses in the spring of 2022. It took seven years to complete the audit.
CDOT’s MS4 permit includes seven stormwater programs, with 37 sub-sections that require specific recordkeeping. The MS4 program is implemented by CDOT’s five departmental regions across the entire state of Colorado, CDOT headquarters and consultant assistance. The breadth of the program and diverse number of internal stakeholders distributed throughout the state makes coordination challenging, which has created inconsistency in data collection. These challenges mean consolidating information for annual regulatory reporting is very difficult indeed.
When Jean stepped into her new role she immediately began looking for software solutions that could handle and better manage CDOT’s complex stormwater program. “I wanted to get CDOT to a point where we could have all of our MS4 information and data together in a single solution, and make sure the data across our programs were consistent,” Jean says.
“We should be able to cut the time focused on compiling and reviewing our annual report time by 50%.”
— Jean Cordova, Water Quality Section Manager, CDOT
At the time, only two of the seven programs were using independent software systems to manage information and streamline workflows, but the others were collecting data using paper and pen and storing data in spreadsheets, simple databases, and “in people’s heads,” according to Jean. Data fields across CDOT regions were inconsistent within the program, making analysis of the data to evaluate the programs across and within regions extremely difficult.
Jean wanted something that regional and headquarters staff could use to collect consistent and comparable data as well as store all the relevant data in one centralized database. She knew data standardization and accessibility would allow her to answer any preliminary questions the EPA had, mitigating against future audits.
Compiling CDOT’s annual report for the state regulator takes Jean and her team about half a year: she had to start requesting and compiling data from the regions in October to have the report submitted by the April due date. “I wanted to be able to track and view the collected data throughout the year that I ultimately needed to compile for annual reporting,” Jean says. “I was looking for an off-the-shelf system built for stormwater compliance that includes the flexibility to configure it to the specifics of our program.”
Jean was firm; she needed to be well prepared in case the EPA ever audited her again. She wanted the security of knowing that her data was in order and at her fingertips. And she wanted better, usable data: data that would help CDOT actively improve their stormwater management and the programs that support it.
Better Data Lets You Plan For the Future
CDOT is in the process of fully adopting 2NFORM, robust software that provides intelligent stormwater management and compliance. Jean anticipates that “once we get 2NDNATURE Software adopted for all seven of our compliance programs, and we are collecting the correct data that we need in one place, we should be able to cut the time focused on compiling and reviewing our annual report time by 50%.”
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Jean is excited by how 2NFORM will increase efficiency and consistency across her program. With 2NFORM, field staff can enter data directly into a tablet or phone, removing the cumbersome and error-prone transcription and uploading steps of their current workflows. A consistent and comprehensive data standard means that all of the CDOT regions across all of the stormwater programs are now using the same terminology and collecting consistent data, making the dataset they generate efficient to query and easier to analyze.
Maps and metrics are at the ready with the density and proximity of projects to impaired waterways and demonstrate our investments in permanent water quality assets to reduce CDOT’s water quality impact.
— Jean Cordova, Water Quality Section Manager, CDOT
Using ArcGIS and spatial analytics, CDOT can evaluate the effectiveness of their program. “If our regulatory agency wants to know how many construction projects we have, where they’re located and the inspection and enforcement history, it’s easy to show them.” Jean says “Maps and metrics are at the ready with the density and proximity of projects to impaired waterways and demonstrate our investments in permanent water quality assets to reduce CDOT’s water quality impact.” By analyzing and interpreting the data and mapping areas of concern, Jean can identify which stormwater management techniques really work and which need improvements — information that is crucial to strategic planning for the future.
“2NFORM makes our stormwater management and regulatory reporting so much simpler and more consistent than what we’ve done in the past. I’m excited,” Jean says.
Clean Water for All
2NFORM is providing a digital transformation for CDOT’s stormwater program, making the process easier, the data better, and the strategic planning more informed. Municipalities and organizations need to manage their stormwater in order to comply with the state and EPA requirements and reduce compliance risk and avoid painful and costly audits. But we’re also working together to conserve our natural resources and create a more sustainable world. 2NDNATURE and CDOT are partnering to plan better stormwater management for the future and keep our water clean — for everyone.