Appendix C: Summary of Adaptive Management Techniques

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1 Appendix C: Summary of Adaptive Management Techniques Introduction The Utility is responsible for managing flooding, maintaining water quality, and protecting aquatic habitat in the City of Olympia. It addresses these responsibilities by delivering eight core services: Capital Facilities (CFP) Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Program Administration (PA) Environmental Planning and Policy Development (EPPD) Public Involvement and Education (PIE) Code Enforcement and Technical Assistance (CETA) Development Review (DR) Monitoring, Research, and Performance Evaluation (MRPE). The Utility has accomplished much towards achieving its responsibilities. However, to be more effective and efficient, it is necessary to improve accountability by specifying performance measures. Program and project outcomes will be monitored and compared against the performance measures. Adaptive management and performance measures are not entirely new concepts to the Utility. Since its inception, the Utility has placed a high value on evaluating its services. The Utility has used professional judgment, observation, and some scientific data to evaluate and modify program activities. However, most evaluations have asked only two questions: what resources were used to carry out the action, and what was produced from that action? This information has generally not been formally compared to the Utility s mission or responsibilities, nor have objective performance measures been used. To correct these shortcomings, the Utility now seeks a more formal adaptive management process and a new structure for evaluating needs and making decisions. What is Adaptive Management? Adaptive management, as applied to surface water management: Is an ongoing process for continually improving management policies and practices by learning from the outcomes of program activities. Treats those policies and practices as experiments, and improves surface water management by learning from the ecosystems being affected. C-1

2 Relies on scientific methods to evaluate how well regulatory and non-regulatory actions achieve their objectives. Links best available science, community values, staff experience, and measured outcomes. Recognizes and allows for the uncertainty and incomplete knowledge that typify complex ecosystem dynamics. Results in timely and appropriate management decisions affecting the Utility s flood prevention, water quality maintenance, and aquatic habitat protection responsibilities. The principal components of an adaptive management approach are (modified from Nyberg and Taylor, 1995, and Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy website, 2002): Establishing a responsible entity committed to managing the ecosystem. The Utility is the entity responsible for managing Olympia surface waters. Assessing (modeling) the ecosystem, identifying possible management actions, desired outcomes, and information gaps or uncertainties. The Utility assesses what is needed to prevent flooding, maintain water quality, and protect aquatic habitat. Assembling one or more management plans and monitoring programs that maximize results, optimize measuring and learning, and incorporate best available science. These plans and programs are built around the Utility s eight Core Services. Selecting and implementing the best plans and programs based on its cost, risks, likely outcomes, performance measurability, and other factors. Monitoring the key response indicators, thereby measuring performance. Evaluating outcomes versus what was expected, and identifying reasons for any differences. Communicating results to managers and stakeholders and receiving feedback. Adjusting the management plans and monitoring programs to reflect what was learned. What is Best Available Science? In the judgment of qualified scientific experts, best available science is valid, reliable, and includes the most current, comprehensive, and persuasive information. It reflects valid scientific C-2

3 process, such as peer review, standardized and repeatable experimental methods, logical conclusions, reasonable inferences, and statistical or other quantitative analysis. Best available science may include: Research Monitoring Inventory Survey Modeling Assessment Synthesis Expert opinion. This definition is consistent with Washington Administrative Code (WAC ). What is a Performance Measure? A performance measure is a collection of inputs and results for a specific activity that is used to evaluate its effectiveness in achieving the desired objective or goal. In most cases, a performance measure can also be used to evaluate efficiency and thus help refine work plans and budgets. Performance measures are widely used by public entities to respond to changing needs. For example, federal agencies are mandated to design performance measures into their programs through the Government Performance and Results Act of There are two basic types of goals and objectives related to two types of performance evaluation, programmatic and environmental: Programmatic evaluation is used to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of the strategy developed to carry out the action. Environmental evaluation is used to measure the effectiveness of the action at meeting environmental goals. Adaptive Management Work Plan The Utility will develop an adaptive management strategy as an element of its 2003 work plan, and implement and refine it in successive annual work plans. The Utility should ensure that its strategy is consistent with WAC , which requires local governments to use adaptive management to protect critical areas (such as surface waters) when the best available science is inadequate. The strategy should also be consistent with Public Works Department, City, state, and federal goals and objectives. C-3

4 The yearly work plans will also include refinement of the Utility s mission statement, corresponding responsibilities, goals, and objectives, and the performance-based outcomes. Changes in annual work plans resulting from adaptive management may also have budgetary impacts. As the Utility s assignments change, both its budget and funding must change. Therefore, adaptive management will also include mechanisms to adjust Utility income (such as stormwater fees) to provide necessary funding. Future Challenges This Plan identifies and provides the means to tackle many difficult challenges. Adaptive management assesses how well the Plan meets the challenges, enabling the Utility to modify program activities as needed to improve the likelihood for success. However, many challenges are not fully addressed by the Plan. These are recorded here so they will not be lost, thereby enabling them to be considered in future plan revisions. How should emergency flood response be funded? This Plan proposes that the Utility maintain an emergency reserve of 10 percent of the Utility s total budget (approximately $450,000). This level of reserve funding is the minimum required, and is not sufficient to resolve significant emergency flooding problems. The Utility currently responds to emergencies by reallocating existing funds, which has significant effects on other projects. How should problems caused by older developments (those lacking stormwater controls) be addressed? Once contaminated runoff from these areas enters the publicly owned pipe system, it becomes the City s responsibility. This creates potential long-term liability issues. How should limited capital funds be prioritized across basins? In 2001, the City Council prioritized Green Cove Creek as a designated sensitive basin and enacted appropriate zoning and development standards for new development. The Utility should reflect community values and use adaptive management to prioritize capital projects in all basins. Can urban streams be restored? Managing and potentially improving water quality and aquatic habitat in Olympia is challenging, especially in older, developed areas lacking stormwater management facilities. How should the Utility respond if drastic increases in solids disposal costs come to pass? This Plan calls for the City to remove solids from ponds, catch basins, pipes, and City streets. Disposal costs are currently affordable, but new regulations could make disposal more difficult and raise those costs ten-fold. C-4

5 What should the City do about stormwater facilities that are not being maintained, and where it may have no legal right to intervene? Many privately owned stormwater facilities are not being maintained. The City s rights to access or require maintenance may be limited. How should the Utility respond if state and federal budget cuts shift significant enforcement work to City staff? Out of budget necessity, state and federal regulators are deferring to local involvement and action for some environmental problems. This work is important but interferes with planned assignments. How do radical ideas become accepted and used? The best way to manage urbanization impacts on surface waters is to eliminate them before they occur. This is difficult for new developments, and requires radical thinking for existing ones. But, if protecting water resources is important and to be successful, it will take perception change that which is now radical must become mainstream. Other Core Service-specific challenges exist and are discussed in Chapter 4. C-5

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