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Stormwater Ponds in Coastal South Carolina Appendix A7-2 – Communication Surveys and Interviews

Expert Interviews

Objectives:

  • Identify the most common concerns in each step of the stormwater design and construction process;
  • Identify where communication or transfer of information is inconsistent or lacking;
  • Evaluate their perception of pond performance across coastal South Carolina;
  • Summarize the greatest concerns from a community water resources management

Methods:

MS4 staff, considered experts in stormwater pond design, construction, and management, as well as representatives of pond management companies were interviewed in order to prioritize those stormwater pond issues that can best be minimized or eliminated by resident behavior change. Surveys were implemented as recorded phone interviews; each survey participant was kept anonymous per university institutional review board policies and approval. Completion of the full survey required 30-45 minutes of the participant’s time. Twenty-one experts were asked to participate, with an equal number of experts in each of three regions (Beaufort area, Berkeley- Charleston-Dorchester tri-county area, and Myrtle Beach area); ten experts participated in the survey. Expert survey questions were categorized by the life stage of the stormwater pond.

Questions:

Design

  1. What design standards do you use that inform your stormwater pond technical specifications?
  2. What pond maintenance documents, if any, are required as part of your project design submittal and approval process?

Construction

  1. Do you believe that stormwater ponds in your area are generally constructed to their design specifications? Why or why not?
  2. If NO, please identify the common issues or obstacles in stormwater pond construction that your community
  3. What additional resources would assist in addressing these construction issues?
    1. Who should these resources be targeting?
  4. Is there a critical time at which these issues can best be solved?

Transfer of Ownership

  1. When stormwater pond ownership is transferred to a neighborhood [property management company or HOA], how are pond ownership and maintenance responsibilities communicated between developer and neighborhood [property management company or HOA]?
    1. Do you find this strategy sufficient? Why or why not?
  2. What do you think is the most important information to share with new owners of a stormwater pond?
  3. What information on stormwater pond ownership and maintenance is typically provided to new pond owners?
    1. How is this information provided?
    2. How do you think this information can best be provided?
    3. Who provides this information?
    4. Who do you think is best suited to provide this information?
    5. Post Construction Process and Pond Performance
  4. What are the most common factor(s) for individuals or neighborhoods calling     community engineering or stormwater departments for assistance?
  5. What percentage of ponds in your community do you feel are no longer meeting their design standards?
    1. What do you believe are the major causes of failure?
  6. Please describe your post-construction protocol for ponds installed prior to the start date of the MS4 permit (2006).
  7. Please describe your post-construction protocol for ponds installed after the start of the MS4
  8. Do you have dedicated staff whose job duties include post-construction pond inspection and enforcement?

Community Understanding

  1. In general, what are your city’s or county’s residents understandings and knowledge of the purpose of stormwater ponds?
    1. What are the biggest gaps in knowledge?
  2. In general, what are your community’s understandings of their ownership and maintenance responsibilities?
    1. What are the biggest gaps in knowledge?
  3. What would you recommend to neighborhoods regarding budgeting a certain amount for pond maintenance, per pond?
  4. Based on your conversations with pond owners [and HOA members with stormwater ponds], what do you consider to be their pond maintenance priorities?
    1. How do they differ from your priorities?
  5. What additional information is needed to assist communities with post- construction maintenance?
  6. Is there any additional insight you would like to offer that would influence the adoption of best practices to improve stormwater pond maintenance?
  7. Do you have recommendations for a property management company representative, neighborhood or HOA representative that should participate in   focus groups to talk with us about stormwater pond maintenance at the local level?

Involved community members and staff, education target audiences, and the transfer of information and communication processes are unique to each of three phases of a stormwater pond – design, construction, and post-construction management. Responses more frequently referred to major concerns and occurring issues; some experts suggested resources to address ongoing pond problems.

Network Surveys

Multiple attempts to survey both local and national stormwater experts and educators about existing stormwater outreach efforts and resources yielded very few responses. For these purposes, stormwater professionals were considered to be stormwater managers, stormwater compliance inspectors, environmental engineers, natural resource managers, and environmental scientists.

Findings:

Though not comprehensive, the collected results indicate that outreach efforts have included booklets, brochures, HOA workshops, conferences, manuals, demonstration sites and installations (for example, vegetated buffers and floating treatment wetlands), online informational videos, and educational signage on stormwater ponds and related topics. Overall, outreach has focused on addressing the design and purpose of stormwater ponds, pond inspection and maintenance, financing maintenance, upland landscape management, and general information on stormwater drainage infrastructure. Though in-person training efforts targeted a variety of pond owner and management audiences, surveyed resources were primarily designed for pond owners, including references specific to HOAs.

Focus Groups

Objectives:

  • Assess the perception of where responsibility for pond management lies.
  • Identify real and perceived barriers to adequate pond management activities.
  • To gauge both functionality and aesthetic perceptions related to different types of shoreline

Methods:

Focus groups were conducted in three different regions (North Myrtle Beach, Charleston, and Beaufort) in June and July of 2015. Focus group participants consisted of HOA board members, stormwater sub-committee members, and residents. Each focus group hosted five to ten people, and the same 14 questions were asked at each event. Not every participant answered every question.

Questions:

  1. Who owns your pond(s)?
  2. What are the top pond maintenance priorities in your community? Who completes this maintenance?
  3. What percent of residents do you think are aware of these ownership and maintenance responsibilities? If many are aware, how did they find out?
  4. What functions does your pond provide for your neighborhood?
  5. Does your neighborhood have an inspection and maintenance plan for your pond(s)? If yes, please briefly
  6. Does your community currently set aside funds annually for pond maintenance? If yes, are they sufficient? How did you decide on the budget?
  7. Take a look at the following stormwater pond photos: vegetated shoreline buffer, turf grass mowed to the water’s edge, and bulkhead.
  8. [For each photo individually] Is this type of shoreline management technique a good option for a pond? Why?
  9. [For all photos at once] Which one do you consider to be the most attractive option?
  10. Where do you first look for assistance or resources for your pond problems and questions?
  11. What additional resources would help you manage your pond?
  12. How would you like to receive this information? Who should provide it?
  13. What is the worst consequence of a poorly maintained pond?
  14. What are the biggest obstacles to pond maintenance in your community?
  15. Does your pond have an impact on coastal water quality? If so, how does this affect you?
  16. Who do you believe has the largest impact on your neighborhood pond’s health and performance?