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ACRES Bulletin
January 2013

Showing Success in ACRES!

TBAs on the I-710 Corridor: Los Angeles, California

In December 2010, US EPA Region 9 and the California Environmental Protection Agency's State Water Resources Control Board launched the Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Partnership in the Interstate 710 (I-710) Corridor. EPA conducted targeted brownfields assessments at seven sites in four cities. Twenty-nine underground storage tanks were identified for removal. Highlights of the effort include the Cafe Camellia site in Bellflower and the Iglesia Cristiana site in Los Angeles. Previously, the Cafe Camellia site was a gas station. TBA funds were used to perform assessment activities at the site which led to the removal of two gasoline underground storage tanks and one waste-oil tank. The site is currently occupied by a small family-owned restaurant and a window-tint company. The city hopes to expand its redevelopment efforts to include retail shops and a courtyard for community events. Former uses of the Iglesia Cristiana site include a service station, electronics distributor, and possibly a dry cleaning facility. When a tank was pulled in 2002, soil samples confirmed it was contaminated. Recently TBA funds were used to evaluate the extent of contamination and move the site closer to redevelopment. The current property owner plans to redevelop the property into six retail stores after cleanup.


For more information, please visit the Region 9 website at http://www.epa.gov/region9/waste/ust/710corridor/index.html.



Cafe Camellia Site During Tank Removal
Cafe Camellia Site During Tank Removal


Cafe Camellia - Open for Business
Cafe Camellia - Open for Business!

News

Coming to an ACRES near you ...

Ever have a problem trying to get through CDX to access ACRES? A large percentage of Help Desk calls indicate there is some frustration here. We're working to replace CDX with a new authentication process called WAM. WAM's benefits to you include:

  • Direct access to the ACRES Log In page - no intermediary login through CDX
  • A single, central help desk - the ACRES Help Desk - to call for any problems whether ACRES related or login related
  • Response for problem resolution will be faster
  • Registration will be significantly faster, especially for EPA users
WAM is not ready just yet but we plan to make the switch in late February. Prior to the switch, you will receive a notification detailing the login and account management processes.

Latitude/Longitude Data Cleanup

Where in the world is ... no ... not Carmen Sandiego ... how about the right property location? This past year all ACRES property records were scanned to identify incorrect lat/long values. A comparison was made between each ACRES record and a Google location based on the property address. Some of the property lat/long values were missing a negative in the longitude (so the properties appeared on the opposite side of the world!), some were missing values altogether (hmmm ... no map location!), and some were designated for large areas (e.g. somewhere in the middle of a large city). Over 4,100 properties were identified with lat/long issues. With the help of the EPA interns and dedicated ACRES team members, 2,903 of these were verified before ACRES was actually updated. These research efforts determined that 70% of the identified properties had correct fixes. The 70% were updated in December 2012 and the remaining properties will require further scrutiny in the new year.


Features in ACRES

Review and Submit Reminder

A new banner appears at the top of the ACRES Review and Submit pages to remind you that this is a multi-step process.

Please review the change highlighted in yellow and then SUBMIT Property is not submitted until the

When submitting a property or grant for review, be aware that after you select Review & Submit, ACRES displays a page that allows you to verify the additions/updates you've made to the information. You must then finalize the process by clicking the Submit button at the bottom of the page. Frank's Tips, Issue 3, discusses the 2-step process.

New for Project Officers:

The new Manage this Cooperative Agreement button

To help project officers quickly access CA management functions such as award, funding and closeout information, a new and brighter button has replaced the old Cooperative Agreement Profile Agreement/Enter Data link.

Manage this Cooperative Agreement

The new button, available at the top of the CA Home page, will display for the CAs that have been assigned to you.

Regional Status Tab

For work packages that have been in the same status for 90 or more days, the work package status will now display in a red font as an alert that these need attention. See Frank's Tips for more details on the importance of moving these forward.

New Regional Report Card

Need a fast way to look at your regional data - for example, want to see a listing of all the cleanup properties in open status? The new Regional Performance Report on Cooperative Agreements can provide the details in a couple of quick clicks of your mouse. The report displays basic cooperative agreement information (state, recipient, CA number, dates, etc.), amounts both awarded and paid to date, and much more. It provides a link to the Home page for each CA listed and can be exported to Excel for printing or reformatting. You now also have the option to display only open, only closed or all CAs. The report can be accessed from the Reports at the top of any ACRES window. It was created in response to user requests ....

If you have any suggestions for ways ACRES can make your job more effective, please let us know by contacting the ACRES Help Desk at ACRES_Help@epa.gov or (703) 284-8212.


Events & Training

National Brownfields Conference
May 15-17, 2013 Atlanta, GA
 
The National Brownfields Conference, cosponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), is a premier training and networking event not to be missed! The conference brings together thousands of stakeholders from the private sector, local, state and federal agencies, nonprofit and community groups, and academia to share success stories and best practices for redeveloping brownfield properties.

Now in its 15th year, the conference attracts over 6,000 attendees and 200 exhibitors to converge for two and a half days of educational sessions (over 100 options available), lively panel and plenary sessions, training workshops, walking tours, volunteer activities, mobile workshops, film screenings and much more. Topics included in the conference's technical program include but are not limited to:
  • Community engagement
  • Law and liability concerns
  • Equitable development and environmental justice
  • Green technology
  • Sustainable end-uses
  • Public health
As the Agency's flagship training event for brownfields and land revitalization, EPA brownfields grantees are encouraged to use their grant funding to attend.

The ACRES Team will be offering training during the conference. For a complete schedule on times, please visit the Educational Program section of the conference website at http://www.brownfieldsconference.org/en/sessions

The ACRES Help team will be available throughout the conference to answer your questions. Look for OBLR's booth at the conference for more information.

Registration and more detailed information is available at: http://www.brownfieldsconference.org/en/home

Online Training Offered:

Getting Started:
  For Assessment, RLF, Cleanup, and Section 128(a) Recipients just starting to use ACRES, this training will provide instruction on the process for submitting your property data and demonstrate how to use the tools and functions in ACRES. Approximately 90 minutes.

The Next Level:
  For Assessment, RLF, Cleanup, and Section 128(a) Recipients that are familiar with using ACRES, this training will provide instruction on how to make ACRES work for you and your property scenarios, and the answers to some commonly asked questions. Approximately 90 minutes.

2013 ACRES Training Dates (2 pm ET) details
 
Getting Started — January 8
March 12
The Next Level — February 12
April 9
 

"The future is not something we enter. The future is something we create."

~ Leonard I. Sweet ~

Redevelopment Outcomes

In FY 2012 you helped ACRES to meet or exceed all program goals. Of special note, the goal for "acres ready for reuse" was tripled from last year's goal and we even exceeded our new goal by over 300 acres!


GPRA GoalAnnual TargetFY12 Value

Properties w/Assessments Completed1,2001,444
Properties w/Cleanups Completed120120
Dollars Leveraged$1.2B$1.2B
Jobs Leveraged5,0005,593
Jobs Leveraged3,0003,314


Frank's Tips

Frank Gardner is a Brownfields Project Officer and the Regional Data Coordinator at EPA Region 1. In this role, he works with recipients to help them report their activities and successes in ACRES.

Frank Gardner

Keep that workflow flowing!

Timely reporting in ACRES of assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment activities at Brownfields sites is critical to telling the story of success of your Brownfields program. It's important for Cooperative Agreement Recipients (CARs) to report on the start and completion of each assessment or cleanup activity as it occurs. The moment you click the "Enter Data" link for a property associated to one of your grants ACRES creates a property work package under that grant. ACRES will track and record the status of your work package throughout the workflow from you to your EPA Project Officer and then to the Headquarters review until your package becomes part of the permanent property record. As soon as this workflow is complete (usually within 2 or 3 weeks), you will once again be able to click the "Enter Data" link for that site and create another work package under that grant. There is no limit to the number of times this process can be repeated.

While you are entering and editing your data, your work package is in "Edits in Progress" status. It will remain in this status until you take action to submit the work package to your Project Officer for their review. This means that you can continue to add and edit this data during various login sessions until you are satisfied with the completeness and accuracy of your data. However, we encourage you to be as timely as you can in submitting your data, since we cannot count your accomplishments towards our national program goals until you submit your data to us. We recently added an enhancement to ACRES to make it easier for us to spot those work packages that are not being submitted in a timely fashion (i.e. still in "Edits in Progress" status after 90 days). In this way we hope to better target our training and outreach to folks who are having a hard time submitting their data on time. Based on these efforts, it appears there are three main issues at play:

Issue 1 - CARs sometimes feel like they only have one opportunity to enter all their site activities, so they keep editing the same work package over many months until all site activities are complete. As indicated above, there is no limit to the number of work packages that can be created and run through the workflow over time. Therefore, it is important to submit the data once each milestone is achieved, and do not wait until all milestones have been achieved at the site.

Issue 2 - CARs sometimes enter data and then forget to submit the work package to their Project Officer. ACRES will send reminder emails to you if you have a work package in "Edits in Progress" status for more than 30 days. The system has been recently enhanced so that users can no longer opt out of this particular reminder email.

Issue 3 - CARS sometimes think they have submitted the work package to their Project Officer, but it has not actually been submitted. When you scroll down to the bottom of the data entry screen, you will see a rectangular green button labeled Go To Review Submit. Some users have failed to submit their data because they thought they were done at this point. Clicking on this button will bring you to the confirmation screen, where your newly-entered data will be highlighted in yellow boxes. Scroll down through the confirmation screen to verify that you are comfortable with your data, and then look for another rectangular green button down at the bottom that is labeled Submit Data Now. Only after this second click on the green button will your data actually get submitted to your EPA Project Officer for their review.

The most important thing to remember is that in addition to being required per the Terms & Conditions of your grant, ACRES is a critical way in which you tell the story of success of your Brownfields program. The more timely and complete your ACRES reporting, the better we all look!

We know that reporting takes time and effort and Brownfields grants have a number of reporting requirements in addition to ACRES. One possible system enhancement we are currently exploring is a way to generate the quarterly reports for grants via ACRES. We have heard enthusiastic support from a number of grantees that such an enhancement would greatly reduce their overall reporting burden. It would also likely help prevent discrepancies between quarterly reports and ACRES, reduce paperwork, and make it easier for EPA Project Officers to track and review the quarterly reports. Timely and thorough ACRES reporting will be critical to the success of such a feature, since the goal will be to have ACRES auto-populate much of the data in the quarterly reports. Keep an eye out for more information on this enhancement in the future. In the meantime, please keep sharing your successes by submitting those work packages!

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