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Comprehensive Flow Monitoring Program – The Baltimore City Approach

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Historically, sewershed rehabilitation projects have yielded mixed results in cities, towns, and counties throughout the United States, including the City of Baltimore, MD. Accurate rainfall and flow data play a key role in the effectiveness of these projects for two reasons. First, and perhaps most important, the hydraulic models used to identify deficiencies in the collection system must be calibrated using current rainfall and flow data. Secondly, the effective identification and elimination of inflow sources - the main cause of wet-weather SSOs – depends greatly on the accurate measurement and characterization of wet-weather flows. In spite of numerous sewershed studies and rehabilitation projects, Baltimore continued to experience wet-weather SSOs. In past projects, rainfall and flow monitoring efforts were under-funded and/or performed by contractors that lack the technology and expertise to execute the work.

Recognizing the importance of accurate data, the City of Baltimore decided to take a different approach this time. The City awarded three contracts (totaling $18.5 Million) with national firms experienced in large-scale flow monitoring project. Each contract consisted of between 100 and 130 metering sites. By contracting directly with the service providers, the City was able to place higher priority to the flow-metering technology and to the expertise of the service providers. Prior to contracting the service providers, a Flow Monitoring Plan was developed for each of eight sewersheds utilizing the City's Geographical Information System (GIS). Flow monitoring sites were selected and boundaries were drawn for approximately 270 mini-basins. The average mini-basin contained about 25,000 linear feet of pipe.

For the first time, national firms joined forces and develop alliances for the benefit of the City. For the first time the City executed a flow monitoring project of this magnitude, using wireless communication, with multiple service providers and one common database. The flow data generated by the project would be used by Consultants to guide the $1-Billion Comprehensive Sewer Rehabilitation Program, and the data would be shared with local, State, and Federal organizations that may have use for the data.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 October 2007

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