How we solved a major data headache for municipalities and DEP

June 2023

When the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) needed to compile a list of the many different stormwater facilities reported to them by municipalities, the agency called on C.S. Davidson to help transmit all the municipal stormwater data saved in CSDatum, the company’s proprietary software for managing public works assets.

Many Pennsylvania municipalities are required to reduce the pollutants carried by stormwater into the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways. Municipalities use stormwater basins and other stormwater management tools to reduce pollutants. DEP requires municipalities to submit annual stormwater management reports and then the agency compiles these reports to document the efforts being made around the state to reduce impacts on the bay and waterways.

To date, these reports have mostly been submitted on paper printouts or by PDF files emailed to DEP. While this satisfies the municipalities’ reporting requirements, it creates a data headache for DEP to compile the data in a meaningful and useful way.

Ushering in a new process, and challenges

Now, DEP is transitioning to an online reporting system known as MS4 eReporting. The software will make DEP’s process of compiling and maintaining a database of all stormwater management efforts within each municipality and throughout the state more efficient and effective.

For municipalities that use C.S. Davidson’s CSDatum asset management software, all or most of the data needed by DEP is already stored in the software. This is a handy start – except that it would still take untold hours for them to manually transfer it to DEP’s database.

DEP recognized that municipalities may already have the stormwater data stored in a software system and wanted to give municipalities an easier way to transfer the data. Through Allyson Gibson, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Programs at Lancaster Clean Water Partners, DEP heard about CSDatum and contacted C.S. Davidson to see if an export/import system could be created.

Puzzling out workable solutions

As our code developers got into the details, they realized that even the smallest data mismatch could throw a wrench in the works. Our developers worked meticulously, asking questions of DEP along the way, and took more than two months to get the data export just right.

To get the export tool to work correctly, we needed to add new fields to our data and perform new validation checks on the CSDatum data. To assist users while they are in CSDatum, we added informational text and notifications to CSDatum to help municipalities and other users input data in the format DEP requires. We also created warnings to alert users when some existing data will not be compatible with the new reporting application, and where required data is missing or invalid.

“As a Central Pennsylvania engineering company, we often work directly with DEP or other state agencies, and we have the connections with the state which municipalities appreciate,” said Jonathan Heilman, C.S. Davidson senior client manager who supports clients using CSDatum. “This project represents the innovative applications available with our software. We’d like to partner with more people and municipalities we know in Pennsylvania and help them in their work with state agencies.”

If you are a municipal manager in need of data support, contact us today to discuss a trial of CSDatum.