2NDNATURE has developed a field assessment and web-based information management system to track the progress and performance of rural road improvement programs. These road improvement programs, which are led by land owners or resource conservation districts, aim to reduce the amount of sediment generated from rural roads in California and assume that rural roads in poor condition are a significant and chronic source of sediment to local streams. Rural Road RAM is a standardized and easy-to-use tool to evaluate the relative rural road condition, determine the urgency of roadway improvements to reduce the road-derived sediment loads, and track the effectiveness of improvements over time. The primary product of Rural Road RAM is a customized web based data management system where users inventory road sites, enter standardized and consistent field observations, and simply review mapped and tabular results. 2NDNATURE translated existing road assessment protocols into a series of objective and rapid field proxies that express the relative risk of sediment delivery to local streams using a 0-5 scoring system. The data management system automates site condition tracking and program effectiveness reporting at any spatial scale (road network, watershed, county, etc.). Rural Road RAM is a valuable tool to simply and consistently evaluate, track and report the effectiveness of water quality improvement actions and the road improvement program in a format easily understood by regulators, funders, and the public. Rural Road RAM was initially developed in 2014 in collaboration with the Santa Cruz RCD to support their Rural Road Erosion Control Assistance Program (RRECAP; http://www.rcdsantacruz.org/rural-road-erosion-control-assistance-program-rrecap). Rural Road RAM is being improved and optimized by 2NDNATURE with Napa County partners as the tool to prioritize and track the benefits of the Napa County Rural Road Improvement Program, which will contribute to the sediment load reduction goals of the Napa Watershed Sediment TMDL.
Elevated stream erosion due to watershed modifications is a common and significant source of excessive and controllable sediment to local surface water streams. A common goal of riparian restoration and stream channel improvement programs is the effective and sustained reduction in bed and bank erosion generated from a geomophically unstable stream system. The Napa River Watershed Sediment TMDL explicitly identifies stream erosion as one of the two largest sources of annual sediment loading to the local streams, and extensive resources are being expended to sustainably reduce the annual amount of sediment generated from stream erosion. 2NDNATURE will apply our RAM tool functionality and concepts to create the Stream Erosion RAM with the Napa County natural resource stakeholders. Stream RAM will include the typical inventory, assessment and condition tracking functionality of all 2N RAMs, focused specifically on the relative erosion hazard of a stream reach at the time of observation. The tool will be a rapid and reliable assessment and data tracking method to quantify the effectiveness of stream improvements that aim to minimize the risk of bank and bed erosion over time. The results of Stream RAM will be used to document the annual miles of priority stream channels in good condition as required by the Napa TMDL Integrated Tracking and Accounting System (ITAS). Stream RAMv1 will be released in 2016.
A treatment BMP is defined as any structure that is placed in the flow path of surface runoff (typically generated from impervious surfaces) to reduce downslope runoff volumes and/or pollutant loads. The installation of stormwater treatment BMPs is a priority strategy to reduce pollutant loading from urban stormwater and improve downslope water quality. However, the performance of these treatment BMPs can significantly decline over time if they are not regularly inspected and maintained. 2NDNATURE developed BMP RAM to meet this critical need and provide a simple, standardized tool to document and track the relative maintenance urgency of water quality BMPs. BMP RAM identifies the primary processes upon which treatment BMPs reduce, retain and/or remove pollutants from urban stormwater, such as infiltration, particle capture or media filtration. BMP types are standardized based on the BMP configuration and the process relied upon for treatment. BMP RAM field observations are simple proxies, either independently or in combination, to document the relative performance of each respective treatment process. The results of the individual observations are integrated by the BMP RAM tool and compared to user-defined benchmark (best; score = 5) and threshold (failure; score <2) values to determine the current condition at the time of observation. The online tool allows the user to print maps of BMP RAM scores for specified time periods of interest to iteratively identify maintenance priorities. Users can also view condition time series for specific Treatment BMPs to evaluate the effectiveness of specific actions or do spatial comparisons to inform watershed planning.
In the Tahoe Basin, the BMP RAM is the only tool explicitly named in the MS4 Phase II permit as an accepted method for local municipalities to verify treatment BMP performance and meet annual catchment credit allocations under the Lake Clarity Crediting Program. The Tahoe stormwater community funded the update and release of BMP RAMv2 in 2015. Through 2017, 2NDNATURE is collaborating with Central Coast municipalities to customize and tailor this annual treatment BMP assessment tool to the meet the regulatory annual reporting requirement of their MS4 Phase II permit requirements. BMP RAM can be easily adapted to other stormwater programs to verify NPDES permit compliance.
Roads are a chronic and significant source of fine sediment to local surface waters throughout the country. The Lake Tahoe TMDL estimates 72% of the fine sediment loading is derived from urban sources, with roads being the greatest contributor per unit area. Improved road maintenance strategies that reduce the generation of fine sediment from Tahoe roads is a priority water quality improvement action to achieve TMDL goals. 2NDNATURE developed Tahoe Road RAM to provide a simple, standardized tool to rapidly evaluate, quantify and track the relative fine sediment generation risk of road surfaces over time. Road RAM field protocol development used a portable rain simulator to quantify the concentration of fine sediment generated from a 1 square-ft area. A series of visual proxies were tested and refined to best predict the fine sediment concentration measured by the simulator using a multivariate statistical model. The results of the model are used to integrate the results from simple field observations by the Road RAM user to generate a Road RAM score ranging from 0-5 that correlates to >1500 mg/L and <30 mg/L of FSP, respectively. The results are spatially and temporally explicit and instantaneously mapped by the web-based tool using Google Maps. Temporal changes in scores over time provide insight into maintenance action effectiveness and continued spatial and temporal maintenance priorities.
Tahoe Road RAM is the only acceptable assessment method named in the MS4 Phase II permit that CA municipalities can use to verify annual road conditions align with their assertions to meet their permit requirements. Tahoe Road RAMv2 was released in 2015, and continued improvement investments to optimize the tool to meet both regulatory and jurisdictional needs are planned. With these repeatable, cost-effective methods, users of varying technical capabilities can implement Road RAM to document road condition, evaluate road maintenance effectiveness, guide future high-resolution data collection, track incremental progress of improving road fine sediment generation over time for the Lake Clarity Crediting Program, and prioritize resource spending.