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Wastewater collection system managers and staff are constantly faced with questions and challenges in planning and operating their systems. Increasingly, a broad range of staff are relying on real-time data and information systems to help answer those questions and make quick-turn decisions. Many questions are posed frequently, requiring repetition of the same actions to answer them. Traditional methods include laborious manual searches through paper or electronic files, inaccuracies due to outdated information and limited accessibility of that information, and inefficient reiteration of commonly performed queries.

These questions and issues multiply when regional collection systems comprised multiple jurisdictions and service providers. Examples include:

How can plant staff readily determine whose District (service provider) a given home or business is in, when there are multiple service providers in the area whose boundaries don't match City boundaries?

Who should be notified when an emergency condition occurs in the system?

How can we identify and resolve potential sources of pretreatment violations?

How will we demonstrate Capacity, Management, Operations, and Maintenance (CMOM) compliance when we're not sure what to expect from upstream Districts?

How can we make the pipe data and District information portable and available to field crews in real time?

How can we provide metering data to each District?

How we can develop a system model that can be accessed and updated as necessary by each District?

How important is it to obtain relevant and accurate collection system data before a District may be dissolved and/or personnel retire?

In its simplest form, a geographic information system (GIS) can help bring historical, “two-dimensional“ sewer data into a seamless single map. However, many utilities are now beginning to leverage the power of GIS as an integral part of their daily operations and ongoing planning processes. Data searches that once required laborious efforts to conduct can now be streamlined, while at the same time making those data available and useful to a much broader set of staff and potentially the public (end users).

The Littleton/Englewood Wastewater Treatment Plant (L/E WWTP) is the third largest plant in Colorado. The collection system tributary to the plant is a patchwork of some 19 different Districts and communities that cover a total of about 100 square miles. As regulatory scrutiny increases on collection systems (e.g., CMOM) and pretreatment programs, regional systems such as these are faced with increasingly difficult challenges in compiling and managing collection system information and communicating between wastewater service providers. Recognizing the inefficiencies in existing regional collection system management and the potential challenges posed for such a system under anticipated CMOM regulations, the L/E WWTP has led a process to implement a collection system GIS with targeted applications to meet the needs of plant staff and the individual collection system Districts.

Using direct input from a broad range of staff, GIS applications that include the following features have been developed under a prioritized schedule:

Rapid identification of a public caller's responsible District by plant staff – 24/7/365

Comprehensive systemwide data and GIS sewer connectivity that for the first time will allow a systemwide model – rather than estimating capacity and flow data for 20 individual systems

Tools targeted for pretreatment staff, such as georeferencing each significant industrial user and allowing upstream/downstream trace functionality to “track” potential flow paths

Time of travel flow estimates to better respond to spills that occur into the collection system

Connection capability to other external databases that carry additional regulatory data

Specialized layers that depict permitted facilities

Portable maps to allow Districts to review spatial data during the CADD to GIS conversion process

Standardized attribute information for sewer lines and manholes between all affected sewer Districts

Future phases of the GIS development may include enhanced operational support. As an example, real-time flow data could be linked geographically to points on a map, allowing the different Districts to access a centralized source of information for verifying flows and potential adverse impacts on the collection system or treatment plant.

Lessons gained from this experience include how to merge data from multiple Districts, counties, and cities, each with varying levels of detail, quality, and format. Moreover, this effort has helped identify methods of prioritizing applications between multiple in-plant and District interests. For pretreatment needs, this process has identified a method of refining and updating current databases to include more pertinent information on regulated facilities and provide access tools for field staff. Of primary importance is to provide a practical and open system that can be adapted to other data technologies utilized at the wastewater treatment plant and sanitary sewer Districts.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2007

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