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Today’s I/I Infrastructure Challenges

As we discussed in the previous post in this series, the increasing failure of America’s aging infrastructure has forced municipalities of all sizes to deal with the problem. The challenge is to do so as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. In this post, we review a sampling of the ways our cities and towns are addressing the most visible and pressing element of this issue: inflow and infiltration (I/I).

As wastewater collection systems deteriorate, I/I pours in, overwhelming collection systems. Sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) have become a huge issue. So much so, that the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized that many cities need help dealing with this scourge.

Helpful I/I Resources

The Agency has created a Wastewater Collection System Toolbox. It is intended to guide municipalities to better inspect, maintain and replace their collection system components and help avoid overflows. A large part of this maintenance involves finding and eliminating sources of I/I.

Within the elements of this toolbox, the EPA:

  • encourages the use of newer technology such as GIS and other location-based information systems to survey, assess and track system condition
  • advocates thorough planning to manage ongoing maintenance work and improvement of system capacity (CMOM)
  • supports communication with end users of the infrastructure, about ways they can contribute to a healthy system

As part of a U.S. EPA initiative, “Water Infrastructure Outreach,” several new tools are posted here for downloading to help manage infrastructure renewal, including:

How Some Municipalities Are Handling I/I

Many municipalities in California have posted their Sewer System Management Plans online, which could serve as a starting place for others who don’t have the resources to reinvent the wheel. You can find them by using the search string “Sewer System Management Plans.”

Speaking of what municipalities are already doing, let’s look at some concrete strategies they’re using to deal with I/I:

Baltimore, Maryland entered a modified consent decree in October of 2017. The MCD requires the city to do some additional rehabilitation on top of that it performed under the initial consent decree of 2002. It has initiated a two-phase, four part program to address these requirements:

  • Expedited Reimbursement Program – This is for sewage backups caused by wet weather. The program offers up to $2,500 per dwelling unit, per event, for reasonable, documented clean-up and disinfection costs.
  • SSO Notifications – The city maintains a database of ongoing sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) reports. These are collected on a monthly basis and reported quarterly to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE).
  • Clean Drain Campaign – This initiative from the city’s Department of Public Works raises the awareness of Baltimore residents about proper disposal practices for cooking fats, oils, grease, wet wipes, and other household waste. This is intended to reduce clogs in public sewer mains
  • Headworks Project – Keys to the project are a well to receive incoming sewage, and a series of very powerful pumps that will improve sewage flow. Essentially, it will act as a giant sump pump. This project at the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant will cost about $430 million, and go into operation by the end of 2020. Construction will continue into 2021. Ultimately, it will eliminate more than 80 percent of the volume of sewage overflowing the city’s aged sanitary sewer system, and keep the streams, harbor, and Chesapeake Bay cleaner.

The city also holds annual public meetings to update all stakeholders on the project’s progress.

Portions of Chattanooga, Tennessee’s wastewater infrastructure system are reaching the end of their useful life. This is causing failures in the wastewater system, mostly during heavy rain events when wastewater system capacity is overwhelmed by a high volume of stormwater. This, many times, results in sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs).

The city has embarked on a multi-phase, multi-year project that includes major upgrades and revisions to several sections of the wastewater system. These include:

  • pipe rehabilitation
  • pump station improvements
  • upgrades to the Moccasin Bend Wastewater treatment plant
  • comprehensive operational audits

How We Can Help

If your municipality is currently facing similar challenges, TrioVision wants to help. We are proud to offer some of the most technologically advanced, hardest-working CCTV inspection equipment available for the televising and recording of underground structures. Call or click today to get in touch with one of our sales specialists who can get you what you need to keep your systems flowing below ground, where they belong.

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