When it comes to water pollution in urban areas, construction sites are often the main offender. With the pressing need to replace aging infrastructure and the nationwide trend of more people moving to urban locations, local governments and conservation districts must be more prepared than ever to plan for and mitigate urban runoff and construction site erosion.
Since its inception in 1947, the Allegheny County Conservation District, encompassing Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has fostered partnerships with state and local groups to create innovative programs to improve and conserve Allegheny County’s natural resources. One of the key programs is to protect their watersheds from the county’s number one pollutant – soil sediment.
The district receives hundreds of erosion control plans a year. Most of these plans relate to projects located in the City of Pittsburgh, the rapidly developing areas around the Pittsburgh International Airport, and new housing developments in the northern parts of the county. To streamline the data collection and reporting functions of the district, they implemented GeoDecisions’ PracticeKeeper in 2015. According to Kelly McLaughlin, Assistant District Manager, the district has completed over 2,200 erosion control plans since PracticeKeeper’s implementation.
Of the 19 district employees, 12 actively use PracticeKeeper to document their own project activities. This new web-based application replaced paper processes and a cumbersome access database. Staff now have all project related data at their fingertips to share with state regulators. Visually impactful and easily shared data are beneficial for required quarterly reports, but even more so to justify current spending and request additional funding to support their mission.
Handling calls from citizens is a daily part of district operations. These interactions with the public have also been improved with the enhanced data organization. Now any staff member can quickly access the relevant PracticeKeeper file to relay the pertinent information and review status.