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Eliminating Sanitary Sewer Overflows in New England

Wastewater Collection System Toolbox

Maintaining wastewater collection infrastructure – pump stations, force mains, and sewers – is an integral component of the proper management of a treatment system and critical to preventing illegal wastewater releases. Effective preventive maintenance programs have been shown to significantly reduce the frequency and volume of untreated sewage discharges, help communities plan for the future and save money on emergency response.

Communities across the United States are working to find cost-effective, long-term approaches to managing their aging wastewater infrastructure and preventing the problems that lead to sanitary sewer overflows. This Toolbox is an effort by EPA New England to provide examples of programs and educational efforts from New England and beyond showing the approaches being used to:

  • Communicate with and educate citizens and local officials
  • Address financial and regulatory needs
  • Develop and conduct preventive maintenance programs
  • Better manage infrastructure assets
  • Use information systems, including GIS
  • Improve system capacity and address system overflows

Our goal, as we develop the Toolbox over time, is not to provide an exhaustive listing or endorse any particular approach, but to direct managers, local officials, and other decision-makers to a range of fact sheets, case studies, ordinances, and other information that shows how things are getting done. And while we recognize that a certain approach may not be directly applicable to your situation, we hope it might provide a new idea, a useful template, or perhaps a potential contact as you work to prevent overflows and improve your collection system.

This page provides links to non-EPA web sites that provide additional information on eliminating sanitary sewer overflows. You will leave the EPA.gov domain and enter another page with more information. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of information on that non-EPA page. Providing links to a non-EPA Web site is not an endorsement of the other site or the information it contains by EPA or any of its employees. Also, be aware that the privacy protection provided on the EPA.gov domain (see Privacy and Security Notice) may not be available at the external link. Click icon for EPA disclaimer. 

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more about PDF, and for a link to the free Acrobat Reader.

Do You Know the Condition of Your Sewers?
Condition assement of your collection system is an investment in managing Risk. Knowing the structural condition of your underground assets will allow you to avoid emergencies, prioritize repair and replacement projects and plan for the future.


How a Sewer System Works
Different strategies are used to convey basic information about how sewer systems work, their operation and maintenance needs, and why things go wrong.
  Knowing Your System
Current and accurate information is essential for managing a system and building community support for the wastewater infrastructure.
Operations and Maintenance
Systematic operation and maintenance programs help protect the capital investment and keep a system in good working order to provide consistent customer service and prevent overflows and backups.
Capacity
Capacity needs change over time – as a system ages, as additional connections are made, and as water usage changes. Different programs and approaches are used to assess and address capacity issues (e.g., Infiltration/Inflow).
Energy
Improved energy management presents opportunities to save money and energy and have a positive impact on air quality and energy system reliability.
Asset Management
Asset management guides the acquisition, use, and disposal of infrastructure assets. Components are regularly maintained over long planning cycles, and replaced when deterioration outweighs the benefit of further maintenance.
Finance
The challenges of financing environmental services and facilities make it increasingly important to understand the opportunities and limitations.
Outreach on Sanitary Sewer Overflows
Efforts to reduce the occurrence of SSOs include public education about the causes and prevention of SSOs.
Outreach on Sustaining the Infrastructure
A sustainable water infrastructure will require educating the general public, local leaders, and the media about the value of the water and wastewater systems and the need to make a financial investment in their long term stability.
Management Approaches to Improve Sewer Systems
Checklists, templates, management systems and strategic planning tools are a few of the many resources to help identify priority needs and structure programs for maximum results.
General/Other References
 

How a Sewer System Works

The Collection System, Wastewater Treatment Facility, La Porte, Indiana
Briefly outlines the purpose of the collection system and its various elements, the sanitary sewer system, the combined sewer system and overflows, and the storm sewer system, as well as the causes of sewer backups.

How the Sewer System Works, City Sewers, LA Sewer, City of Los Angeles Public Works
Uses pictures of the pipeline, pumping plants, drop structures, siphons, treatment plants, and manhole covers to show how sewage flows from sewers to treatment plants. The section "How We Keep Sewers Working" describes the round-the-clock maintenance needs and the impacts of improved cleaning and root control on reducing Sanitary Sewer Overflows.

Sewer Collection, Department of Public Works, North Attleboro, Massachusetts
Lists the types of pipes in the town collection system and their expected service life as well as the work that goes into maintaining their buried infrastructure.

Sanitary Sewers FAQs, City of Oak Forest, Illinois
Graphic shows a service line connecting to the city system and outlines property owner responsibilities, done in a frequently asked questions format that includes what to do in case of a backup.

Sanitary Overflows 101, City of Irving, California (PDF) (12 pp, 270 K)
Graphics and text are used to define the collection system, the wastewater treatment plants, and the stormwater system. Also discusses business/homeowner responsibilities, the causes and risks of SSOs, and what the city is doing to prevent them.

Sanitary Sewer Overflows, Hawaii Water Environment Association
Includes a section Ten Terms to Help You Better Understand Your Sewer System.

Be Sewer Smart, Association of Bay Area (San Francisco) Governments
A range of information describing sewer connections, backups and backflows (including a video), and the problems of fats, oils and grease. Includes educational materials

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Knowing Your System

Inspection & Assessment

Developing a Manhole or Catch Basin Numbering System
As communities work to preserve and improve their wastewater collection systems and comply with NPDES wastewater and stormwater permit requirements, it's important to maintain an inventory of collection system components and have a process for managing the information that's gathered through inspection, maintenance, assessment and repairs. Review some of the factors to consider when assigning identifiers to manholes or catch basins and creating a foundation for an inventory of all system components.

CMOM Program Self-Assessment Checklist 2003, US EPA (PDF) (27 pp, 166 K)
A screening-level tool to help systems evaluate their CMOM programs and identify general areas of strength and weakness.

SEWER: Period of Discovery, Municipal Sewer & Water Magazine, September 2008
Article describes the steps taken by the Warwick Rhode Island Sewer Authority as they developed a comprehensive CMOM program including inspections, cleaning and the compilation of inspection/asset information in a GIS database.

Sewer Inspections, Town of Amherst, New York
Visual inspections of manholes and sewers, CCTV, and testing with smoke and dye are routine and essential duties for the Sewer Maintenance Division crews, helping them troubleshoot and minimize system problems.

Sewer System Inspection, King County, Washington (PDF) (2 pp, 63 K)
Fact sheet describing the King County Wastewater Treatment Division I/I inspection program discusses some basic inspectional practices: CCTV, smoke testing and dye testing.

Sanitary Sewer Televising, City of Oak Forest, Illinois
Explains the purchase of equipment and how it is used; photos show before and after cleaning.

Video Sewer Inspections, Fairfield-Public Utilities, Fairfield, Ohio
A brief introduction and three short videos show how the city inspection program uses remote cameras to identify potential problems in the sanitary sewer lines.

Inspection Forms, Appendix F, Optimizing Operation, Maintenance and Rehabilitation of Sanitary Sewer Collection Systems, 2003 New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (PDF) (11 pp, 277 K)
Inspection forms (e.g., Manhole Inspection, Pump Station Inspection) from a number of sources can be adapted to fit specific collection system needs.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

What is GIS?, 3 Rivers Wet Weather Demonstration Program, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Briefly describes GIS and some of its uses and benefits for managing information in municipal government. Includes one page fact sheet Geographic Information System (PDF) (1 pg, 89 K).

Small Community Mapping, June 2014 (PDF) (2 pp, 375 K)

Using GIS to find, evaluate, prioritize and repair sewers (PDF) (6 pp, 700 K)
The use of GIS, along with other tools and technologies, helps more efficiently manage and analyze extensive digital data and capture knowledge from staff.

Handheld GPS dramatically reduces time in field for outfall survey
By utilizing handheld units in the field, Milford MI saved time and money serving as the foundation for GIS inventory and analysis for the Village in the future.

County uses GIS to integrate efforts (PDF) (38 pp, 400 K)
DeKalb County uses GPS and GIS for easier reproduction of maps for use in the field, creating written Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for managing inventory updates and use and for updating the GIS software, to improve tracking of problems geographically, such as stoppages, service interruptions, infiltration, and SSOs, and to assist in the planning, scheduling, and prioritization of maintenance and the electronic integration of sewer system location and attribute data with the County computer-based collection system hydraulic model and the computerized maintenance management System (CMMS).

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Operations & Maintenance

Template for Developing Sewer Collection System Preventive Maintenance and Sewer Overflow Response Plans, US EPA New England (MS Word) (114 pp, 4.3MB)
A good preventive maintenance program is key to keeping a wastewater collection system in good repair. It helps preserve capital investment while preventing service interruptions and the excessive infiltration/inflow (I/I) and system failures that can result in Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs). The EPA Region 1 assistance office has drafted a Preventive Maintenance and Sewer Overflow Response Plan Template for collection systems to use in developing their own preventive maintenance plans. It is designed to help communities document knowledge as well as better understand their collection system. And by knowing the condition and critical areas of their collection system, a community can improve operations and implement preventive maintenance practices to help reduce or eliminate Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs). As a template document, this must be customized to fit any particular system.

Operation, Maintenance and Rehabilitation Techniques, Chapter 7, Optimizing Operation, Maintenance, and Rehabilitation of Sanitary Sewer Collection Systems, New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) (PDF) (18 pp, 100 K)
Discusses the basics of effective inspection, cleaning, and rehabilitation - key processes for optimizing the proper functioning of a collection system.

To access the entire manual

Wastewater Treatment Works Compliance Maintenance Program, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
This site includes a list of references for sanitary sewer collection system operation and maintenance programs.

Sewer Maintenance, Columbia, Missouri
Site describes the Sanitary Sewer Maintenance Section’s aggressive preventive maintenance program. Includes photos and outlines the steps taken to assess and address problems.

Causes of Obstructions

Sanitary Sewer Operations & Maintenance, Newport News, Virginia
Site describes the city's AIMS (Analysis, Inspection, Maintenance and Support) programs.

Smoke testing letter to residents

Smoke testing Questions & Answers (PDF) (2 pp, 141 K)

Developing a Manhole or Catch Basin Numbering System
As communities work to preserve and improve their wastewater collection systems and comply with NPDES wastewater and stormwater permit requirements, it's important to maintain an inventory of collection system components and have a process for managing the information that's gathered through inspection, maintenance, assessment and repairs. Review some of the factors to consider when assigning identifiers to manholes or catch basins and creating a foundation for an inventory of all system components.

Cleaning

Sanitary Sewer Cleaning, Town of Amherst, New York
Pictures and text are used to explain the high pressure flushing, root cutters, bucket machines, and vacuum trucks used in the 5 different cleaning areas of the town.

Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG)

Fats, Oils and Grease, Narragansett Bay Commission
Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) are by-products of the Food Service Industry (restaurants, cafeterias and other commercial food service establishments) as well as household kitchens. FOG is generated from the use of vegetable oils and animal fats in the preparation of food. Excess FOG to the sewer system can cause blockages and backups. In an effort to address FOG management problems, the Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC), in cooperation with the University of Rhode Island, the RI Department of Environmental Management and EPA Region I have established the NBC Fats Oils and Grease-Environmental Results Program (FOG-ERP).

Fats, Oils and Grease, New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission
Overview information, training presentations, and tools and resources from around the nation on programs to prevent and control FOG.

Preventing Sewer Overflows, Fats, Oils and Grease, Greensboro Water Resources
Documents in English, Spanish and Chinese, including a FOG policy, FOG enforcement response policy, Best Management Practices, and fact sheets for restaurants.

Fat Free Sewers, Warwick Sewer Authority, Warwick, Rhode Island
Homeowner tips on some very simple steps for preventing sewerage back-ups and overflows by reducing the amount of grease disposed to the sewer

California Fats, Oils & Grease Workgroup
The wastewater agency, regulators, consulting firms, restaurants, and related industries develop FOG control tools and provide technical support and information.

Cease the Grease, Recycle, Daphne Utilities, Daphne, Alabama
Program to educate citizens about FOG and to collect grease and cooking oil in recycle stations around the community. Includes a list of locations of oil and grease drop off stations

Austin Water, City of Austin, Texas (PDF) (2 pp, 42 K)
Report uses graphs to present information on the number of SSOs per month. Includes additional details, including costs, on those caused by grease.

Root Control

Choosing Sewer Safe Trees, University of Tennessee (PDF) (4 pp, 493 K)
Describes the problem and prevention strategies for root intrusion into sanitary sewer lines.

Sewer Smart Planting Guide: What you need to know to avoid causing planting-related sewer problems, Association of Bay Area Governments, California

Sanitary Sewer Root Control, Virginia Beach, Virginia
The city posts information about its root control program, including contacts and schedule.

Customer Service

Good Service Request Systems Keep Customers Happy, Technical Bulletin, October 2009, Municipal Technical Advisory Service, University of Tennessee (PDF) (6 pp, 178 K)
Numerous systems are used to handle daily service requests and customer complaints. This paper discusses some of the essential elements that are key to a successful system, and how to plan such a system based on your community's needs and resources.

Contracting for Services

Qualification Based Selection: An MTAS (Municipal Technical Advisory Service) Guide for Procuring Engineering Services in Tennessee, Technical Bulletin, July 2010, Municipal Technical Advisory Service, University of Tennessee (PDF) (28 pp, 265 K)
Following an organized process for selecting and procuring professional services will help both the owner and the design professional achieve these results.

Personnel

Sewer Maintenance Worker, San Bernardino, California (PDF) (4 pp, 29 K)
Defines the position and outlines the job functions, qualifications, physical demands, and working environment for a sewer maintenance worker.

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Capacity

Guide for Estimating Infiltration and Inflow, June 2014 (PDF) (7 pp, 430 K)

Quick Guide for Estimating Infiltration and Inflow, June 2014 (PDF) (3 pp, 507 K)

Private Sewer Laterals, June 2014 (PDF) (5 pp, 408 K)

Guidelines for Performing Infiltration/Inflow Analyses and Sewer System Evaluation Survey, Revised January, 1993 (PDF) (79 pp, 644 K)
Commonwealth of Massachusetts Guidelines for Performing Infiltration/Inflow Analyses and Sewer System Evaluation Survey.

Managing Infiltration Inflow in Collection Systems, Revised 2006, Technical Bulletin, June 2006, Municipal Technical Advisory Service, University of Tennessee (PDF) (13 pp, 230 K)
Many systems don't address I/I because the problems seem overwhelming—both in terms of money and manpower. This paper discusses different strategies for dealing with I/I: "The Traditional Way: Bring in the Outside Experts" and the "The Operator's Way: Use In-House Resources". The best approach may be a combination of the two.

Inflow & Infiltration Program, Metropolitan Council Environmental Services, St. Paul, Minnesota
The Metropolitan Council Environmental Services (MCES) owns and operates eight wastewater treatment facilities and an extensive interceptor system, and connects to more than 100 sewer systems in local communities. In addition to adopting a policy to not provide additional interceptor capacity to handle excessive I/I, the Council established I/I goals for all communities that discharge wastewater to the system and a surcharge program for communities with excessive I/I problems. Some MCES and related links:

Infiltration & Inflow Tool Box (PDF) (41 pp, 467 K)
This "toolbox" or guide highlights programs and products as potential solutions to I/I problems that communities can use.

Additional Infiltration Inflow Toolbox References

Inflow and Infiltration Inspection Program, Golden Valley, Minnesota
Describes the program being implemented in an effort to reduce I/I and avoid surcharges from MCES.

Guide and Requirements to I/I Inspections, Golden Valley, Minnesota
Information to help property owners prepare for I/I inspections.

Infiltration and Inflow in Apple Valley, Apple Valley, Minnesota
Animation flash story explains why a homeowner should not be connecting their sump pump to the sewer.

Regional Infiltration and Inflow Program, King County, Washington
The King County Regional Infiltration and Inflow Control Program was created to reduce the amount of peak wet weather flow entering the County's wastewater conveyance system. The Wastewater Management Division must provide adequate capacity in its system to convey and treat wastewater flows sent by member communities through their collection systems.

What is Infiltration and Inflow?

Why is I/I a problem?

Finding I/I
Brief facts on finding inflow and infiltration, including smoke testing.

Fixing I/I
Brief facts on technologies for sewer repair and removing downspout connections.

Storm Water and Ground Water in the Sewer is a Regional Problem, Brochure (PDF) (4 pp, 1.8MB)

Sewer System Inspection (PDF) (2 pp, 63 K)

Countywide Inflow and Infiltration Elimination Program, Metropolitan Sewer District, Louisville, Kentucky
Explained on a neighborhood basis, the District I&I Program focuses on I&I reductions through flow monitoring, field investigation, and infrastructure rehabilitation. This web site explains the causes of I/I, why clear water should not be in the sanitary sewer system, and the sewer overflows and basement back ups that can result. Includes graphic depictions of proper residential connections.

Inflow & Infiltration
Graphic shows improper residential connections that contribute inflow to the sanitary sewer line; describes the methods used to identify sources of clear water in the sewer system.

High School Inflow Source Identification Program
A public/private partnership with high school students assisting in the investigation of wet weather sewer problems.

Infiltration and Inflow can be Costly for Communities, Pipeline, Spring 1999, National Small Flows Clearinghouse (PDF) (8 pp, 783 K)
Basic information on the causes of I/I and why communities should care, how to conduct an assessment for I/I, and steps for reducing I/I.

Inflow & Infiltration, Lake Superior Streams
A color graphic depicts causes of I&I; photos are used to describe footing drains in older homes and their contribution to the inflow of clear water into a sanitary sewer system.

City of Durand MI Footing drain separation program
The city embarked on a project to disconnect individual gravity footing drain separations in cooperation with the county. Also includes information on sump pumps.

Sump Pump Amnesty Program, Frequently Asked Questions, Waltham, Massachusetts
A program to help homeowners disconnect and redirect sump pumps that are currently connected to the sewer system.

Identification and Termination of Unlawful Connections, Millcreek Township, Pennsylvania (PDF) (6 pp, 210 K)
Describes the purpose and process for their detailed program to identify and terminate connections that discharge stormwater from their properties to the sanitary sewer system.

Voluntary Service Lateral Program, San Luis Obispo, California
This Voluntary Service Lateral Rehabilitation Program was established to address the I/I problems experienced during the rainy season. Abstract describes program parameters.

Residential Sanitary Sewer Lateral Repair Program, St. Louis County, Missouri
Information on a program for covering the cost of repairing a defective residential sewer lateral. Find the rules and regulations, application and other information.

Report for Sanitation District No. 1 of Northern, Kentucky Inflow and Infiltration from Private Property (PDF) (68 pp, 1.2 MB)
Many sewer agencies, reluctant to take on the challenges associated with performing work on private property, have attempted to focus their I/I reduction activities on the public system only. Reports on study in Kentucky, quoting two communities that noted that given the chance to start over, they would spend more time and effort focusing on private property; because this is where they saw the biggest results in the reduction of I/I.

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Energy

Energy and Water/Wastewater Infrastructure, US EPA New England
Regional and national links and contacts.

Ensuring a Sustainable Future: An Energy Management Guidebook for Wastewater and Water Utilities (PDF) (113 pp, 1.2MB)
Environmental management systems (EMS) help an organization analyze and reduce the environmental impact of its activities. This workbook uses an EMS approach to reducing energy use at water and wastewater facilities.

Cutting Energy Usage and Costs, US EPA Office of Water
Find links to a range of resources and tools from EPA and others

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Asset Management

Asset Management, US EPA Office of Water
As part of the EPA's Sustainable Infrastructure Initiative, the Office of Water works in collaboration with partner organizations to host and co-sponsor training sessions and facilitate discussions on best practice in Advanced Asset Management.

Asset Management for Sewer Collection Systems, Fact Sheet, 2002, US EPA Office of Wastewater Management (PDF) (16 pp, 896 K)
Discusses the concept of asset management and the components of an asset management system for a sewer collection network. Also describes asset management as it relates to Capacity, Management, Operation and Maintenance (CMOM), Government Accounting Standards Board Statement 34 (GASB 34) and Environmental Management Systems (EMS).

Five Steps for Reversing Infrastructure Aging, Water Utility Management, September 2008
The Marblehead, Massachusetts Water and Sewer Commission reports that after adopting a five-step, systematic approach to infrastructure asset management they've reduced their system failures and backups and helped improve both the condition of their assets and their allocation of resources and budget.

Check Up Program for Small Systems (CUPSS), US EPA Office of Water
can help you develop a record of your assets, a schedule of required tasks, an understanding of your financial situation, and a tailored asset management plan

Bridging the Gap: An Educational Primer on Sustainable Water Infrastructure Asset Management, Pennsylvania State University (PDF) (42 pp, 847 K)
A booklet designed to help elected officials and system managers make smart choices as they address infrastructure issues. Discusses steps to developing an asset management plan for both novice and experienced professionals, describes an array of reference materials to support the central concepts, and includes real-world examples of emerging best practices and innovations in water asset management.

Developing a Manhole or Catch Basin Numbering System, US EPA New England
As communities work to preserve and improve their wastewater collection systems and comply with NPDES wastewater and stormwater permit requirements, it's important to maintain an inventory of collection system components and have a process for managing the information that's gathered through inspection, maintenance, assessment and repairs. Review some of the factors to consider when assigning identifiers to manholes or catch basins and creating a foundation for an inventory of all system components.

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Finance

Work Order Systems Mean Better Financial Management, Technical Bulletin, March 2003, Municipal Technical Advisory Service, University of Tennessee (PDF) (9 pp, 214 K)
This paper describes the basic elements of financial and work order systems. A complete work order system can enhance the financial manager's control and accountability of any project; the better the financial management system, the more viable a work order system becomes.

Billing and Rates, Designing Rate Structures for Conservation and Stability Texas Rate Report 2014 (40 pp, 2.1 MB)
Describes factors and impacts of rate increases on conservation and stability of rates. This report focuses on how a utility may use its water rates and financial policies to encourage customers to reduce their water use while maintaining the financial viability of the utility, with a focus on Texas examples.

Special Billing Program, Austin, Texas
A database system that tracks trouble calls, work orders, service requests and all costs associated with a particular job helps Austin, Texas make those businesses that cause an SSO responsible for reimbursing the utility for expenses related to the incident.

Water and Wastewater Pricing, US EPA Office of Water
Pricing to accurately reflect the true costs of providing high quality water and wastewater services is needed to both maintain infrastructure and encourage conservation. Find a range of tools and resources.

Reducing Sewer Related Claims from Homeowners, Sewer Smart Summit 2007, Association of Bay Area Governments, California (PDF) (21 pp, 360 K)
Presentation describes steps taken to reduce claims resulting from sewage in homes.

What Happens when you pay your water bill?, City Connections, Kerrville, Texas
The Kerrville, Texas Finance Director explains how the revenue from utility bills pays for current operations and maintenance, and prepares for future needs such as facility upgrades and replacing aging equipment.

Presentations on rate approval process
Presentations from half-day workshop to learn about, discuss, and document rate approval processes Water utilities across the country are enduring unprecedented fiscal and economic constraints while having to find ways to raise revenues. Water utilities have numerous key stakeholders that must be on-board in order for rate increases to gain traction. Effective communication, many times, is the linchpin in securing rates needed to invest in the industry’s infrastructure.

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Outreach on Sanitary Sewer Overflows

Austin Water, City of Austin, Texas (PDF) (2 pp, 42 K)
Report uses graphs to present information on the number of SSOs per month. Includes additional details, including costs, on those caused by grease.

Sewer and Lateral Maintenance Information, Water Pollution Control Authority, Ridgefield, Connecticut (PDF) (2 pp, 257 K)
Brochure uses a graphic and text to describe the sewer lateral connecting a house to the street and the many factors contributing to blockages and backups.

Sanitary Overflows 101, City of Irving, California (PDF) (12 pp, 270 K)
Graphics and text are used to define the collection system, the wastewater treatment plants, and the stormwater system. Also discusses business/homeowner responsibilities, the causes and risks of SSOs, and what the city is doing to prevent them.

Sanitary Sewer Overflow Report, Newport News, Virginia
The Wastewater Division provides an annual summary of the reportable Sanitary Sewer Overflows that have occurred within the city limits.

Preventing Sewage Overflows and Spills, Hawaii Water Environment Association
Includes photos, graphics and explanatory text.

Backup Prevention Program, Johnson County, Kansas
After the extensive damage to many Johnson County homes and businesses from an October 1998 storm, this program was developed to reduce the number of sanitary sewer backups that may occur during significant rain events.

Resident Guide to Sanitary Sewer Overflows, Upper Gwynedd Township, Pennsylvania
Fact sheet answers questions about SSOs: What are they? Why are they a problem? What can we do about them?

What you need to know about: Sewer Overflows, Water and Wastewater, Raleigh, North Carolina
A list of Dos and Don'ts for residential customers.

Understanding Sanitary Sewer Overflows, Bristol, Rhode Island (PDF) (2 pp, 198 K)
Brochure discusses the factors contributing to SSOs (e.g. FOG, disposable wipes, I/I), what citizens can do to help, and Bristol's efforts against the causes of SSOs.

With Sewer Backups What Every Homeowner Should Know, Cloquet, Minnesota (PDF) (4 pp, 1.5 MB)
Brochure on sewer back-ups - includes discussion on insurance, liabilities, common problems and what to do if you experience a sewer back up.

Guidance on Cleaning Up After Sanitary Sewer Overflows, Colorado Department of Public Health (PDF) (2 pp, 23 K)
Along with odor problems, sewage backups can cause property damage and unhealthy living conditions.

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Outreach on Sustaining the Infrastructure

Sustainable Infrastructure for Water and Wastewater, US EPA Office of Water
Basic information about sustainable infrastructure and EPA’s Sustainable Infrastructure Initiative

The Cost of Clean and Safe Water - Sustaining Our Infrastructure, May 2006, New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) (PDF) (45 pp, 418 K)
A useful resource for communities, this study presents the results of a year long effort to collect and analyze cost data from drinking water and wastewater systems serving communities throughout the region.

Liquid Assets – The Story of our Water Infrastructure
This 90-minute documentary focuses on our water, wastewater, and storm water infrastructure systems and the role they play in public health and the economy. The program explores the history, engineering, and political and economic challenges of our water infrastructure, and aims to engage communities in local discussions about public water and wastewater issues.

Water Infrastructure Network (WIN)
A broad-based coalition of local elected officials, drinking water and wastewater service providers, state environmental and health administrators, engineers and environmentalists.

Water Is Life and Infrastructure Makes it Happen
This public education program from the Water Environment Federation (WEF) is designed to educate the general public, local leaders, and the media about the value of the water and wastewater infrastructure, and the importance of investing in its long term stability. Refer to the "Tookit" menu to find presentations, bill stuffers, and other materials.

What Happens when you pay your water bill?, City Connections, Kerrville, Texas
The Kerrville, Texas Finance Director explains how the revenue from utility bills pays for current operations and maintenance, and prepares for future needs such as facility upgrades and replacing aging equipment.

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Management Approaches to Improve Sewer Systems

Integrating Management Systems

Effective Utility Management, a Primer for Water and Wastewater Utilities (PDF) (52 pp, 3.5 MB)
Water and wastewater utilities across the country are facing many common chal¬lenges, including rising costs, aging infrastructure, increasingly stringent regulatory requirements, population changes, and a rapidly changing workforce. Effective util¬ity management can help utilities respond to both current and future challenges and support utilities in their common mission of being successful 21st century service providers. EPA and six national water and wastewater associations signed an historic agreement in 2007 to jointly promote effective utility management based on the Ten Attributes of Effectively Managed Water Sector Utilities and five Keys to Management Success.

Continual Improvement in Utility Management: A Framework for Integration (PDF) (118 pp, 1.8 MB)
Describes how a group of management initiatives interrelate and how a utility can best approach integrating them in the context of a continual improvement management system framework. An increasing number of utilities are seeing benefits from a greater focus on utility management. This guide is intended to aid utility managers to do an even better job managing their organizations.

Managing for Excellence: Analysis of Water and Wastewater Profiles of Utility Management Systems, August 2005, US EPA Office of Water (PDF) (92 pp, 615 K)
Eight utilities were profiled to document the types of management systems in place, the drivers to implement those systems, costs and benefits, successes and challenges, and the roles of various stakeholders. The analyses identified trends, common themes, and other insights.

Asset Management

Asset Management, US EPA Office of Water
As part of the EPA's Sustainable Infrastructure Initiative, the Office of Water works in collaboration with partner organizations to host and co-sponsor training sessions and facilitate discussions on best practice in Advanced Asset Management.

Operation & Maintenance

Template for Developing Sewer Collection System Preventive Maintenance and Sewer Overflow Response Plans, US EPA New England (MS Word) (114 pp, 4.3 MB)
A good preventive maintenance program is key to keeping a wastewater collection system in good repair, helping to preserve the capital investment while preventing service interruptions and the excessive infiltration/inflow (I/I) and system failures that can result in Sanitary Sewer Overflows. As a template document, this must be customized to fit any particular system.

Optimizing Operation, Maintenance, and Rehabilitation of Sanitary Sewer Collection Systems, December 2003
Highlights areas of day-to-day operation and maintenance, and the long-term system planning that can be implemented, improved upon, or documented in order to optimize system performance, enhance program effectiveness, and reduce overall long-term costs. (NEIWPCC entire document available (PDF) (229 pp, 1.3 MB))

Guide for Evaluating Capacity, Management, Operation and Maintenance (CMOM) Programs at Sanitary Sewer Collection Systems, January 2005, US EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (PDF) (126 pp, 2.6 MB)
For use by EPA and state inspectors as well as the regulated community, the Guide identifies some of the criteria used by EPA to evaluate a collection system's management, operation, and maintenance program activities.

Environmental Management System (EMS)

National Association of Clean Water Agencies
NACWA’s efforts with the Water Sector Collaboration on Effective Utility Management Committee as well as other initiative and projects designed to help utilities find solutions to their management challenges.

EMS Toolkit for Wastewater Utilities (PDF) (171 pp, 3.7 MB)
Developed for those utilities looking to make a decision about "why" to implement an EMS and those looking for state-of-the-art guidance and advice on "how" to implement and EMS.

Financial Management

Basics of Financial Management for Small Water Systems
Rural Community Assistance Partnership’s how-to guide provides an overview of financial management for small-community water utilities, from developing and balancing an expense budget to estimating and collecting revenue. Webpage includes downloadable policy documents.

Water & Wastewater Residential Rates Affordability Assessment Tool
An easy-to-use Excel tool that calculates several metrics that assess the relative affordability of a utility's water & wastewater rates on its residential customers. Affordability is assessed for the average customer, low-income customers and a full range of households based on their various income levels. The tool also allows for a new rate structure to be entered to see how affordability compares from one rate structure to the next.

Energy

Ensuring a Sustainable Future: An Energy Management Guidebook for Wastewater and Water Utilities (PDF) (113 pp, 1.2 MB)
Environmental management systems (EMS) help an organization analyze and reduce the environmental impact of its activities. This workbook uses an EMS approach to reducing energy use at water and wastewater facilities.

ENERGY STAR Benchmarking for Wastewater Treatment Facilities in New England
Training has been provided to many wastewater treatment plants in New England, with specific ongoing programs in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire on how to enter and interpret results of energy use information that uses the EnergySTAR benchmarking tool. Participants learned how to use the tool to track energy use and impacts, calculate the carbon footprint, and understand what the benchmark means in terms of improvements on the baseline score. The tool uses facility information such as Average Influent Flow, Design Flow (MGD), Influent and Effluent Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) Concentrations, and all sorts of energy use at the facility. To learn more about the ENERGY STAR wastewater benchmarking tool, contact Jason Turgeon (turgeon.jason@epa.gov or (617) 918-1637).

Innovative Energy Approaches for Rhode Island Wastewater Systems
The Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC), with funding for a State Innovation Grant (Sustainable Energy Management Practices for Wastewater Treatment (PDF) (27 pp, 369 K)) is working with EPA, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the University of Rhode Island on Energy Focused Environmental Management Systems to develop energy management programs to reduce energy use and improve energy efficiency at Rhode Island Waste Water Treatment Facilities. The project is using energy audits, a series of trainings and roundtable meetings, EPA's benchmarking tools, and the plan-do-check-act approach to continuous process improvement as described in the EPA's Ensuring a Sustainable Future: An Energy Management Guidebook for Wastewater and Water Utilities (PDF) (113 pp, 1.2 MB)

For more information:
Contact: James McCaughey, Narragansett Bay Commission
401-461-8848 X 352 or jmccaughey@narrabay.com
Gina Snyder, US EPA - New England (Region 1) technical contact
617-918-1837 or snyder.gina@epa.gov

For more information about Energy and Water/Wastewater Infrastructure

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General/Other References

Climate change is changing our assumptions about water resources
As climate change warms the atmosphere and alters the hydrological cycle, we will continue to witness changes to the amount, timing, form, and intensity of precipitation and the flow of water in watersheds, as well as the quality of aquatic and marine environments. These changes are also likely to affect the programs designed to protect the quality of water resources and public health and safety. Webpage with key EPA links on water and climate change.

Resources Guide for Rural and Small systems (MS Word) (12 pp, 333 K)
As a companion resource to the Rural and Small Systems Guidebook to Sustainable Utility Management (PDF) (41 pp, 1.4 MB), this list of resources offers additional information and guidance specific to small systems on the ten key management areas. Resources are identified in the table by the key management areas that they address.

Water and Wastewater Management, December 2009, Municipal Technical Advisory Service, University of Tennessee (PDF) (65 pp, 487 K)
An introductory manual on how to improve the leadership, management and operations of a water/wastewater system. Divided into three parts, the manual includes information on duties and obligations, and dealing with financial, legal, technical and regulatory issues. While some content is specific to Tennessee, much of it is broadly applicable.

Optimizing Operation, Maintenance and Rehabilitation of Sanitary Sewer Collection Systems, 2003 New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission
This manual helps collection system owners and operators optimize system performance, enhance effectiveness of maintenance programs, and reduce the long-term costs of operation.

Preparing for Media Interviews, Technical Bulletin, January 2007, Municipal Technical Advisory Service, University of Tennessee (PDF) (21 pp, 226 K)
Tips and strategies to help municipal officials prepare for news media interviews.

Water Environment Federation
Use the Search feature to access a wide range of resources.

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