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Merging Environmental Management Systems at the Alexandria Sanitation Authority AWTF

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Because of the benefits and recognition gained, many public wastewater utilities and public works are similarly implementing dual and even multiple management systems (MS) including EMS programs and others such as the Occupation Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS). Many MS are based on international standards such as ISO 14001 and share some similar components and requirements so it is natural to look for opportunities to streamline with potential benefits accrued to staff efforts, management efforts and to the overall communication and effective use of the MSs within an organization. The Alexandria Sanitation Authority (ASA) operates a 54 mgd Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility (AWTF) in Alexandria, Virginia. ASA has been awarded Tier 4 Platinum Certification under the National Biosolids Partnership (NBP) for its Biosolids EMS and under the Virginia Environmental Excellence Program (VEEP) has been awarded E3 (Exemplary Environmental Enterprise) status. This paper provides a case study for merging separate EMS systems including a summary of the process and lessons learned that will be of interest to facilities that currently have or are considering an EMS. It was learned that the following steps are part of a successful merging of management systems at ASA: 1) develop boundary conditions for the merger, such as maintaining certification from external auditors and organizations, and identifying organizational goals, such as streamlining staff efforts and documentation; 2) perform a baseline review of requirements for the MSs to identify similarities and differences; 3) develop alternatives for merging the MS which could range from a full merger into one EMS program, or where that is not practical, to streamlining terminology and documentation; and 4) develop an implementation plan that includes communication and training for all staff and awareness of timing of external audits.
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Keywords: Environmental Management System; ISO 14001; National Biosolids Partnership

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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