MS4 Management Systems vs. Asset Management Systems

Which one is right for my MS4?

Municipalities have a lot on their plate when it comes to conforming to federal, state, and local stormwater requirements. Many, wisely, have turned to computerized systems for organizing their requirements. Computerized compliance systems started with utilizing Geographic Information Systems, or GIS, in applications called “asset management’ systems. These systems have proven to satisfy the requirement of MS4 mapping and documentation well, but how has it handled the other requirements placed on MS4s?

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Municipalities have a lot on their plate when it comes to conforming to federal, state, and local stormwater requirements. Many, wisely, have turned to computerized systems for organizing their requirements. Computerized compliance systems started with utilizing Geographic Information Systems, or GIS, in applications called “asset management’ systems. These systems have proven to satisfy the requirement of MS4 mapping and documentation well, but how has it handled the other requirements placed on MS4s?

While asset management has value for mapping MS4 systems and tracking maintenance records on individual, publicly-owned storm drain structures, their functionality is very limited when it comes to compliance issues beyond mapping.

While some asset management applications have attempted to re-tool their systems to go beyond just the mapping component of the municipal requirements, they haven’t succeeded because the base functionality revolves around the map and the individual storm structure. As a result, trying to use them to manage all municipal requirements can prove to be very frustrating.

That’s why there is a new option for overall MS4 compliance – the MS4 Management System. NPDESPro, the first MS4 Management system, takes a step “upstream” from the asset management system to provide a more comprehensive look at compliance. An MS4 Management system is a step up from asset management because it views municipal stormwater compliance from a better vantage point. Instead of starting with and focusing on mapping, MS4 Management looks at MS4 compliance requirements holistically. MS4 Management systems start by looking at the overall municipal stormwater requirement and all required compliance and reporting issues, not just the requirement to map the system. From this “comprehensive compliance” vantage point, MS4 Management can manage all tasks associated with overall municipal stormwater compliance, not just mapping.

That’s not to say that MS4 Management systems don’t have a robust mapping feature. In fact, NPDESPro V 3.0 has onboard mapping, works with ESRI ArcGIS, satisfies the requirement to have your MS4 fully mapped, and provides extremely user-friendly mapping features along the way. But they don’t stop there – MS4 Management systems allow a municipality to manage all six (6) control measures, ensuring that all compliance boxes get checked.

One huge benefit of the MS4 Management application approach is end-of-year reporting. When an MS4 uses a system limited to asset management, trying to make it do the required high-level reporting and high-level compliance analysis at the end of the year is a nightmare. Some asset management systems have tried to turn their focus to overall MS4 compliance, but because the platform is based around individual storm structures and is limited to mapping functionality, the underlying, limited functionality of the asset management platform hasn’t changed.

Trying to use asset management for high level, comprehensive municipal reporting usually ends in significant frustration for the MS4 Water Quality Manager. Asset management systems aren’t built for high-level reporting and struggle to provide even the most basic compliance information. NPDESPro, however, starts with the management of the entire municipal compliance requirement, so reporting at the high level is simple.

For municipalities in the market for an MS4 compliance solution, there’s an important decision to make between an asset management application and an MS4 Management application. MS4 Management applications start at the top of municipal compliance requirements, include all compliance components (including robust mapping of stormwater systems), and roll it all up at the end of the year with simple, comprehensive reporting. Significant time is saved and water quality is improved.

If your municipality is in the market for stormwater compliance software, compare asset management vs. MS4 Management. I think you’ll find that MS4 Management is the system that makes everyone’s job easier, manages overall stormwater compliance, and enables end-of-year reporting that is a breeze.