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Eliminating the Blind Spot – Optimizing Erie County's Collection System Management Through an Integrated Web-Based Flow Monitoring and Hydraulic Modeling System

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Like many municipal wastewater utilities, the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning/Division of Water Quality Management (DWQM) in Western New York is continually seeking methods to maximize treatment of its sewerage flows, minimize overflows and prioritize collection system maintenance and capital improvements. The DWQM completed development of the Real-Time Flow Monitoring System and Hydraulic Model to demonstrate the way these goals are achieved and optimize collection system management. This web-based system was developed for Erie County Sewer District No. 6, which contains over 75 miles of sewer and serves approximately 18,000 customers. This innovative tool allows County staff to obtain up-to-the-minute status of flow and operation anywhere within the District 6 collection system, develop focused operating and maintenance programs, and to model “what if” scenarios regarding new flows and capital improvements. The DWQM is initiating expansion of the system to its seven sewer districts, covering a population greater than 300,000 and about 1,000 miles of sewers.

Three technologies important to collection system decision-making were seamlessly integrated to develop this innovative web-based tool: remote wireless flow monitoring, geographic information systems (GIS) and computerized hydraulic modeling. Existing District flow monitoring stations and supplemental manhole-based flow meters and rain gauges are used to collect and transmit real-time data to the web site. The existing County GIS database was used as the basis for system mapping and hydraulic model development. The online model is driven by the latest hydraulics engine (USEPA's SWMM5) and a storm/sanitary system modeling specific graphical decision support system (PCSWMM). A browser-based GIS interface enables visual access for various types of users to review data, run models, and view results with little training in the individual website components. Other functions allow the user to run models based on historical data or to simulate storm events. The GIS-based interface allows the user to quickly focus on areas of significance and evaluate using time-scale plotting and animated hydraulic profiles.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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