Reducing SSOs Without Breaking the Bank

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Abstract:

There are a large number of wastewater utilities today that are experiencing economic challenges created by aging sanitary sewer collection systems that are the source of sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs). JEA, a municipally owned utility located in Jacksonville, Florida has experienced challenges that other similar utilities have faced including a collection system with a history of underinvestment and a regulatory mandate to reduce SSOs. Recent water conservation initiatives coupled with a decline in the economy due to the extended recession have resulted in declining revenues. This has put pressure on utilities to hold the line on budgets needed to fund the operation, maintenance and capital costs to address the growing collection system demands.

With little room for increases in the operation, maintenance and capital budgets, JEA has taken a different approach to improving the operation and maintenance of its wastewater collection system while continuing to reduce SSOs. This approach is built on a framework of an asset management system that has become the global standard for asset management for energy and water utilities. JEA adopted the British utility asset management standard which is Publically Available Standard PAS 55.

JEA's SSO reduction strategy started with the selection of a formal SSO management program. EPA's Capacity, Management, Operation and Maintenance (CMOM) Assessment was selected as a basis for comparing JEA's SSO Reduction Program to current industry best practices. JEA also utilized the Core Attributes of Effectively Managed Wastewater Collection Systems (APWA, ASCE, NACWA, WEF, 2010) and the Water Environment Research Foundation Strategic Asset Management Gap tools.

JEA implemented a comprehensive condition assessment program and established an enterprise data management system. Data is leveraged through a rigorous approach using root cause and statistical analysis. JEA incorporates the Six Sigma methodology which has helped change the culture at JEA to one driven by factual analysis. Risk rankings are captured using criticality matrices to prioritize both condition assessments and countermeasures.

JEA also employed the latest technologies in both the condition assessment and control of the wastewater collection system operations. An example of the latest technology is the deployment of the next generation Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System (SCADA). JEA has been able to reduce staffing and improve control and troubleshooting of the wastewater collection system by using real time data. JEA uses statistical analysis of data from SCADA system, the computerized work management system (CMMS), and the geographic information system (GIS) to create risk prioritizations that drive condition assessment inspections and ranking of wastewater pumping stations, manholes, wastewater force mains, and the large diameter trunk sewers. JEA also uses run time data from pumping station SCADA to prioritize smoke testing and closed circuit television (CCTV) inspection of the gravity collection system to identify areas that are the largest contributors to inflow and infiltration (I/I). An innovative fats, oils and greases (FOG) regulatory program leverages the resources of the contractor community (grease haulers) and has been extremely effective in reducing the cost of cleaning due to commercially generated grease, resulting in the reduction of the number of associated SSOs.

JEA has concluded that through the implementation of a rigorous asset management program coupled with industry best practices, that it is possible to significantly reduce the number and severity of SSOs without large capital and operation and maintenance budget increases. It should be noted that when a utility switches from a culture of reactive maintenance to one of predictive and preventative maintenance there will be initial increases in costs. However, within a fairly short period of time (approximately five years) costs can be reduced to levels near or below what was previously budgeted with the added benefit that capital and O&M costs are being directed towards actions that will have the greatest impact on the effort to reduce SSOs.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2175/193864712811726734

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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