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Frequently, flow monitoring is directed by consultants or engineers with minimal input from the field operatives. Using this approach, flow monitoring is often short term, not allowing for development of accurate baseline and weather related data. This common approach fails to take advantage of the collection system knowledge that only operations personnel can provide. Since initiating its flow monitoring program, the City of Duluth has incorporated the expertise and knowledge of operations field personnel, Utility Operators (UO), to maintain program integrity, build strong baseline data and maximize the effectiveness of equipment.

Duluth's flow monitoring program is employed to evaluate sewer basins identified as problematic for Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO), to follow up on questionable high flows reported by field crews, to evaluate changes in the sewer system (new services, pipe sizes, future capacity etc.) to determine sizing for sanitary storage basins, to document the success of the Inflow and Infiltration program including disconnection of footing and roof drains and lining of laterals, and to support the sewer sampling program. Flow monitoring in Duluth is on-going, not limited to specific seasons, or defined projects.

Operations takes a leadership role in many flow monitoring components. Up front input from field staff is the essential component of site selection in order to avoid problems with safety, traffic, manhole configuration, access, flows and velocity that frequently are not visible on maps. Field operations personnel design the monitoring and tracking of each site. From experience, UOs have identified six frequently encountered problems for data collection including material trapped on the sensors, equipment failures, improper equipment set up, not enough or too much flow, not enough maintenance, and excessive clear water. UOs perform the first evaluation of data and provide information on causative factors, before data is used in project evaluation.

With an operations team that works with the equipment and data on a year-round basis Duluth has been able to produce a history of the system that can be used by operations supervisors for maintenance and planning, by engineers and consultants for design and for general problem solving. By developing a field team that understands both the system and the process, the value of flow monitoring increases exponentially.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2007-01-01

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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