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The City of Columbus' CMOM Program: A Comprehensive Approach Has Its Rewards

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The capacity, management, operation and maintenance (CMOM) language under the proposed Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) rule was developed to provide utilities with guidance on how manage and operate their system to reduce overflows. Though the SSO rule has yet to be adopted on a national basis, many states and regions has been requiring compliance with the elements of CMOM. Additionally, many utilities have realized that the guidance will result in improved operation, productivity and economic benefits.

Since entering into a Consent Order with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in 2002, the City of Columbus (the City) has been implementing a required Capacity, Management, Operation and Maintenance (CMOM) Program to minimize the occurrence of Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) in their collection system. The Consent Order required the City to submit a program summary, develop an Overflow Emergency Response Plan (OERP), audit their CMOM activities, and prepare a System Evaluation and Capacity Assessment Plan (SECAP). After meeting the initial requirements of the Consent Order (CO) the City has continued to implement several programs to address overflows and backups. Many areas of the Division of Sewerage and Drainage's (DOSD) operation have been evaluated and improved practices have been undertaken as part of the CMOM Program.

This paper will provide examples of how Columbus' CMOM and other related improvement activities have reduced SSOs, Water-In-Basement (WIB) complaints, as well as emergency overtime expenditures through a systematic approach to implement improved operations and maintenance procedures in the collection system. This paper will also discuss how improved record keeping and the tracking of performance measures have allowed management to evaluate productivity in several areas and constraints that may hinder production in others. This coupled with maturing mapping capabilities, have helped to demonstrate and display the improvements the City has been realizing.

Through the initiation of a Sewer Shed Based Preventive Maintenance Program; the majority of the problem areas have been proactively cleaned and has resulted in a significant reduction of incidents associated with wet weather events.


In addition to the Preventive Maintenance Program, the City initiated a backflow prevention program dubbed Project Dry Basement which was an un-mandated program, championed by the Mayor of Columbus, to protect homes experiencing chronic WIBs until other system improvements can be completed.


Simultaneously, the City commissioned five I/I Study Projects in priority areas that have numerous Designed Sewer Relief (DSR) structures and has historically had a high number of overflow events.


Throughout the implementation of these programs, the City of Columbus has achieved Consent Order compliance, developed their CMOM Program and raised the level of service for its residents.
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Keywords: CMOM; Consent Order; Sanitary Sewer Overflows; Water In Basement; backflow prevention; performance measures; preventive maintenance

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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