March 2009, Vol. 21, No.3
Operations Forum Editor’s Note
Managing a collection system starts out sounding so simple: Pipe the water from homes and businesses to the treatment plant. Just make sure the pipes are big enough to account for population growth and new development. Oh, and build in capacity for when it rains, too. And don’t forget that we’re going to need to clean the lines to keep roots and fats, oils, and grease under control. One more thing, make sure the system doesn’t release any odors that will bother people. Those fumes corrode concrete, you know. Hmm, considering that, you’d better go ahead and plan a repair and replacement plan, too. That’s all really not so bad. One last point, do all of that on the smallest budget you can manage. Most folks walking down the street don’t realize how much all of this costs.
The truth is managing a collection system is not simple at all. In fact, in some cases, getting the wastewater to the treatment plant might be more convoluted that actually treating it. Collections system managers need every skill, trick, and ability that they can muster to ensure that the flows get where they’re going without any unintentional stops.
“Under Pressure To Perform” describes what it took for a Michigan utility to plan and execute an air-release valve inspection and maintenance program. Ensuring this one aspect of the collection system was well-cared for required a great deal of consideration, planning, and work. The effort led to a clear and direct program that helps to protect the utility’s force mains and pressure sewers.
In “Alarming Trends,” the authors demonstrate how technology can help ensure wastewater stays where it belongs: in the collection system. Combine water-level sensors and communications packages into units small enough to attach to the underside of manhole covers and inexpensive enough to produce in large numbers, and you have the beginnings of a continuous, real-time monitoring network.
While these two articles demonstrate the commitment and cleverness needed to find collections system success, they just scratch the surface of the topic. WE&T and Operations Forum have many more collection system-related stories on their way. The May issue tackles stormwater, the June issue will delve into odor and corrosion control, and the July issue will cover combined sewer overflows and sanitary sewer overflows.
— Steve Spicer, editor
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