DWQ Spills Story Photo

Division of Water Quality SUCCESS Story

jessicalarsen News, Success Stories

Goal of SUCCESS System

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Quality (DWQ) Spills Incident Management SUCCESS system aims to standardize and improve responses to events that threaten water quality around Utah. SUCCESS Framework metrics measure the timeliness of a DWQ enforcement decision. Timely enforcement decisions ensure appropriate actions are taken and help encourage compliance.

Strategies

When the division assessed its baseline response time to incidents, its analysis revealed two things. First, staff scientists and engineers managed incidents differently since there was no clear protocol for entering spill reports into DEQ’s Incidents Management Database. Second, staff members were unable to respond quickly to spills due to their work loads. To streamline the process, DWQ hired a Spills Coordinator dedicated to managing reported incidents that threaten water quality in the state. The position oversees tracking, reporting, enforcement decisions and close-outs for each incident.

Tactics

DWQ used the following tactics: 

  • Set goals to enter enforcement decisions into the Incidents Database within seven days.
  • Clarified how to code incidents and document the actions taken. This includes detailed instructions for tracking and generating metrics. 
  • Hired a dedicated Spills Coordinator and provided him with specialized training.

Process Changes

DWQ identified problematic procedures and practices used in generating tracking reports. The team addressed these problems by creating reporting queries that run directly in the DEQ Incident Tracking Database. These quarries eliminated two steps: exporting the data and managing it in a separate database.

Results

There was an immediate improvement in response time after DWQ hired a dedicated Spills Coordinator. The Spill Coordinator uses new methods of incident tracking and quality improvement strategies developed by DWQ to rate each incident and manage it through close out. Timely incidents per dollar have increased more than 400 percent since July 2016.

DWQ observed a decrease in metrics (QT/OE) after FY17-Q3. This reflected changes to the type of incidents managed by DWQ in the DEQ Incident Management Database. Previously, incidents that involved oil and gas development were managed by DOGM. DWQ recently agreed to take the lead role in incidents that impacted surface water. Processes were updated to address these changes and improve response times.