Martinsburg, WV is building a robust stormwater program, but they needed software that went beyond asset management to help them comply with their MS4 permit and improve water quality. They found 2NFORM.
City of Martinsburg, WV
Stormwater Program Manager Jared Tomlin
Stormwater Coordinator Becca Russell
Stormwater Technician Chris Moats
With a population of nearly 20,000, Martinsburg, WV is the largest city in Berkeley County, and the eighth largest in the state. Proximity to the Washington, DC metro area provides jobs, and locals value the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley. Tuscarora Creek runs through Martinsburg; the Tuscarora watershed is on the EPA’s 303(d) list of impaired waterways.
Asset Management Isn’t Stormwater Management
The stormwater team in Martinsburg, WV, knew that they wanted software to help them organize their stormwater management. They had cobbled together a collection of apps and services that let them track various tasks, but Jared Tomlin, Stormwater Program Manager, was convinced that there had to be a better way.
“Asset Management isn’t the same as MS4 compliance tracking,” Jared says. “It was a square peg that we were trying to fit into a round hole, hacking together different software and apps to do what we needed to do.” In addition, the cost of these various solutions added up fast, and most of them required personalizing in order to make them work for stormwater at all.
Nearby Berkeley County, WV started using 2NFORM for their stormwater management, and Jared got interested. “It seemed to have all the bullet points we needed,” he says. “They speak our language. 2NFORM is software made for stormwater management.”
Berkeley County, WV is using 2NFORM to build a modern stormwater program from scratchRead the case study
2NFORM is a robust software platform that provides intelligent stormwater management and compliance, purpose-built by stormwater scientists and experts to meet the needs of busy MS4 permit holders. Foundational modules handle information management and reporting on the six minimum control measures required by most MS4 permits. Additional modules empower stormwater managers with advanced analytics and planning capabilities, using the data collected for compliance to drive actual improvements in water quality.
The search for useful stormwater software got more urgent in 2020, when Martinsburg faced an EPA audit. The city was put under a consent order, and their corrective action plan (CAP) included using 2NFORM to improve inspections of their structural stormwater assets, tracking of illicit discharge investigations, and more. “2NFORM became the rallying point in our CAP,” Jared says. “It’s peppered through our plan, because we saw that it could help us do what the consent order required us to do.”
Martinsburg is taking the consent order seriously and building a powerful stormwater program, with 2NFORM to organize and guide their efforts. In January 2022, Martinsburg launched a stormwater utility, with a utility fee to fund the program.
“It’s profound,” Jared says. “We’ll be looking at a six to seven fold increase in funding. We’re going from three people to 12.” City leadership has been enormously supportive during this process, with engineering, utilities, the city manager, and the city council all involved. “Stormwater isn’t something people like to spend money on, but it’s necessary,” Jared says. “We’re trying to get people as excited as they can be about rolling out stormwater for the city. We want people to see that we’re an asset to the city, not just an expenditure.”
The Power of Geospatial Intelligence
2NFORM is built on Esri’s ArcGIS, so users can use interactive maps to literally see how water flows through their MS4 and how stormwater assets connect to and impact local watersheds. This geospatial intelligence is crucial. Maps make understanding the meaning of data points much more intuitive: a list of structural stormwater assets in a spreadsheet just isn’t as informative as a map of these assets, visually coded for asset type, functional status, inspection needs.
“I saw that we’d been paying for an Esri subscription, but we weren’t using all of the tools available to us,” Jared says. Jared started by getting infrastructure mapped, and his colleagues in city government got excited when they realized what GIS could do. The stormwater program at Martinsburg is leading a digital transformation, exploring and making use of the digital tools that not only upend how business is done, but expand what can be done. The EPA audit had emphasized that Martinsburg needed to do a better job of tracking their structural stormwater assets and their illicit discharge detection and elimination (IDDE) efforts. “We had stormwater assets on a map, but that was it — there was no schedule for maintenance or any understanding of what was there,” Jared says. They were tracking IDDE inspections with a combination of spreadsheets and an inspection software, but it couldn’t track the need for follow ups. 2NFORM can.Stormwater Coordinator Becca Russell agrees that the interactive maps in 2NFORM are a game changer, and will help them meet the EPA’s consent order: “Most of the structural stormwater assets in the city were not functional, and it will be a long process before they are. Being able to see them all on one map, with a red mark to show high urgency items, is really great.”
Transforming the Daily Work of Stormwater Management
The geospatial intelligence and analytics built into 2NFORM has transformed the Martinsburg team’s day to day approach to stormwater management. Jared and Becca puzzled for years over how to build a dashboard that could guide their efforts. “There’s so much to do. Where do we start?” Jared says. “Red dots on a map don’t sound like a lot, but they’re a huge help. That’s what we do when we come into work: we address those red dots.” Those red dots might be structural assets that need inspection or maintenance, IDDE inspections that require a follow up, or other urgent stormwater business.
2NFORM has also transformed construction inspections in Martinsburg. Stormwater Inspector Chris Moats loves the new way he does his job. “The last place I was doing construction inspections we used paper reports,” Chris says. “2NFORM is really handy.” It took Chris a few weeks to get used to the new tool, but “once I got used to the system, it’s pretty easy to go through a site and check off all the boxes that need to be checked.” 2NFORM guides inspectors to add all the necessary information, so nothing gets forgotten, and everyone uses the same fields and standards. This makes data analysis much simpler.
“I like the drop down boxes a lot, and I like how 2NFORM generates the inspection report,” Chris says. “When I send a report out, the site manager can read through it, see the photos I took and any notes informing them if there’s a problem. I can label the location in case they’re not sure what needs to be worked on. It streamlines the report really well.”
Those photos are a big help. Jared remembers his software search: “We were told multiple times by major asset management vendors — all the big guys — that we didn’t need photos associated with sections or questions, that it was fine to have all the photos at the bottom.” But Jared disagrees. “Some of our sites have 30 different areas. It helps to have the photos right there. It’s a seemingly small thing that’s really useful.”
Software That Offers a Real Return on Investment
Jared, Becca, and Chris appreciate the functionality that 2NFORM gives them — and the cost savings. “It is definitely cost effective compared to any of the other solutions — which weren’t even focussed stormwater solutions — by a lot,” Jared says. “2NFORM is extremely affordable in comparison and addresses more of the work we wanted to integrate.”
The time savings is real, too. Chris appreciates how streamlined his inspection processes have become. Becca is looking forward to her first MS4 annual report with 2NFORM, when the software will take all of the information already in it and generate a report, including data, charts, graphs, summaries, all at the click of a button.
As for Jared, he’s looking forward to getting out from under the consent order, which he feels confident they can achieve using 2NFORM. But most of all, he wants to achieve cleaner water for Martinsbug. “Down the road, I can’t wait to see the benefits to water quality based on our efforts. That’s the biggie, that’s our home run.” He’s confident that 2NFORM will get them there.