Sewer

SEWER NEWS: Understanding CMOM (Capacity, Management, Operations and Management)

CMOM programs are a best practice for sewer line collection system owners and operators. Both comprehensive and holistic, a CMOM provides an information- based plan to effectively run a sewer collection system and help lower the risk of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit violations and discharge violations. The EPA notes in their Asset Management for Sewer Collection Systems fact sheet: “Lacking adequate focus on operations and maintenance, many collection system utilities have slipped into a reactive mode, with most of their operational resources allocated to emergency response and rehabilitation or replacement of failed systems.” Instead, a proactive and even predictive approach is encouraged by following the CMOM program.

In 2005, the EPA published a guide to evaluating and structuring a Capacity, Management, Operation, and Maintenance program. The CMOM approach is not enforced by regulatory authorities, nor is it legally binding, but can be mandated as a response to consent decrees. CMOM program documentation and subsequent audits may also be required when submitting applications for an NPDES permit. The goal of the CMOM process is to assure that discharge from treatment facilities is free from pollutants. Therefore, preventing sanitary sewer overflows, which are illegal under the Clean Water Act, is a priority.

In a CMOM program, emphasizing all four segments equally will reap the most benefits, but the backbone of the program is the management portion. Utility optimization through CMOM programming aims to be adaptable, changeable, and frequently updated, moving away from the traditional long-interval master plans. Therefore, it is difficult to implement a CMOM program without reviewing the internal components of managing a collection system – things like organizational structure and staffing, training and budgeting. An effective management system helps ensure the operations and maintenance portions of the program can fully be addressed.

Collection system operation also supports review, standardization, and transcription of activities and procedures within a department. Proper documentation allows for increased accessibility and accountability with a collection system’s organization. Operators and administrators thus identify and reflect best practices and ensure processes are kept consistent. This information, time and again, proves valuable in the event of an emergency.

The EPA notes some of these responsibilities may include “monitoring discharges into the collections system for individual users; monitoring to determine the effects of sanitary sewer overflows on receiving waters; and recording any sampling that is done, according to the Guide for Evaluating CMOM Programs at Sanitary Sewer Collections Systems. Other operational activities include safety procedures and emergency preparedness and response programs. The EPA guide also lists modeling and mapping under the operations umbrella. New technologies, like tracking with flow rate monitors, are making it easier to create and structure managerial and operational tasks and even automate some maintenance activities.

Operation and maintenance are often grouped together because their activities are so interrelated. The goal is to keep maintenance planned, as opposed to unplanned. Efficient assets have a longer useful life and reduce the likelihood of failure, decreasing emergency response costs. Like other aspects of a CMOM program, establishing written protocols helps standardize procedures and provides data that can be analyzed for patterns and trends.

Ensuring pipelines are prepared to carry the necessary capacity is a complex task. The capacity of a collection systems relies on a number of variables, including the population being served, total system size, and location of house lateral lines. A routine evaluation of capacity can be coordinated in conjunction with the other operations and maintenance activities to round out a CMOM program. Determining capacity requires both testing and inspecting, which largely focus on finding sources of inflow and infiltration (I&I). I&I is a significant contributor to SSOs and CSOs during wet-weather events. Inspections are moving away from confined-space entry methods for the safety of inspection personnel, instead opting for qualitative testing and methods that utilize CCTV inspection technology and collect comprehensive data. Rehabilitation programs are also essential to CMOM and the goals of avoiding emergency situations and staying preventive and predictive.

Implementing a CMOM program is not an easy task. It is both comprehensive and complex but worth the investment of time and resources because the benefits can be felt in both the short and the long term. In the pursuit of increasing efficiency, a CMOM program helps collection system owners and operators identify where the system and the organization as a whole are thriving and what areas need improvement.

Thankfully, the bulk of the work in putting together a CMOM program is to codify and fine-tune existing processes within a collection system. The EPA and other government sources have released numerous resources to assist owners and operators in putting a CMOM program into action. For more information on how to get your municipality’s CMOM program started, go to https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyNET.exe.

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Using OMAG's SL-RAT - Feedback From 2 Cities That Have Used It

Last Fall, OMAG purchased 3 Sewer Line Rapid Assessment Tools (SL-RATs). The reason for the purchase of this equipment was to loan them to our member municipalities to update and develop sanitary sewer maintenance programs. Following are some questions OMAG’s Risk Management Department asked these cities, with their responses. We thought the rest of our member municipalities might like to see what was said about participating in the SL-RAT program. Here are the responses from Jay Neal, City of Durant and Matt Duke, City of Muldrow.

Question: Why did you choose to participate in the OMAG SL-RAT programs

  • Durant: We have an aging wastewater distribution system. We are seeing an increase in the amount of sewer related issues. Having been in my position only 2 years, at that point, I felt it was incumbent upon us to do a “fitness” report on our sewer system. The SL-RAT tool provided the means to do that.

  • Muldrow: We knew we had problems in our collection system and wanted to isolate the problems. We also have inaccurate and outdated prints that do not show all of our manholes, or the manholes were not in the correct location on the prints.

Question: Did the SL-RAT meet your expectations as to its usefulness? If so, how?

  • Durant: It exceeded our expectations. As with all newer technologies, it’s easy to be reluctant to accept its usefulness. However, the SL-RAT proved up to the challenge. Once we figured out its limitations and the best time of day to put it to use, it gave us an accurate picture of our sewer infrastructure and provided the data necessary to analyze it.

  • Muldrow: Yes, we have a great idea on where our problems are and we now have a good working print (map).

Question: What will you do with the information you acquired from using the SL-RAT?

  • Durant: When possible, we are keying in on the lines that were substandard to determine which, if any, need replaced or repaired. If we are able to use it again after we have serviced those lines, we will be able to start trending problem areas and creating work-arounds.

  • Muldrow: We will now be able to jet our problem areas and use the camera we obtained through an OMAG grant to find out why the lines are having problems. We will also be able to make prints of our collections system and have accurate locations of our manholes.

Question: What are some of the positive aspects of using the SL-RAT for improving your sanitary sewer inspection and maintenance program?

  • Durant: The biggest advantage the SL-RAT provides is to afford our department a proactive way to deal with sewer problems instead of putting us in a more reactive posture.

  • Muldrow: We have isolated problem areas that were unknown and eliminated other areas we suspected had blockages. We found that just physically opening all or our manholes was also a great benefit, because we were able to find some that were in need of rehabilitation and sources of I & I.

Question: What, if any were some of the complications you encountered while using the SL-RAT?

  • Durant: There are some variables that you have to contend with when using the SL-RAT. However, these issues are systemic to the environment and less to do with the equipment itself. Satellite hindrances, such as cloud and tree cover, inclement weather, and undulations in the sewer lines that lead to improper or inaccurate ratings did occur. There were a few instances where the two components would not synchronize. Some of those were user error and the others were undetermined in origin.

  • Muldrow: None, it was a very efficient system.

Question: Would you recommend that other Oklahoma municipalities  take advantage of OMAG’s SL-RAT program? What advice would you give them to take full advantage of their time using the SL-RAT?

  • Durant: I would highly recommend that other municipalities take advantage of what the SL-RAT can provide, in regard to their wastewater distribution system. The integration into Google Earth and the ability to export to Microsoft Excel for in depth analysis is worth the price of admission in and of itself. Furthermore, it provides an excellent form of accountability for the department and a quantifiable way of determining problem areas and justifying repairs. As far as advice to other municipalities, I would say, “know the general pulse of your town; meaning, know your off-peak times of the towns sewer usage. The tool will provide a more accurate read during low usage times on your respective lines. Have a dedicated team assigned to this project with little or no distractions to take them away from the project. Have a plan that provides the most coverage possible for the time you will be using the SL-RAT. Lastly, work with your upper management to ascertain their goals for the usage of this product.”

  • Muldrow: Absolutely. This tool gives you a chance to quickly assess what areas of your collection system are needing maintenance and makes you locate manholes that could have been lost over time. I found that having a three-man team made the process move along as quickly as possible. By having two guys working the machines and one in front of them locating manholes and popping lids, we were able to move through town at a quick pace. This tool gave us the same information we had previously paid for, at a fraction of the price.

For more information about the SL-RAT or to schedule having one brought to your municipality to assess your sewer system, contact William Sheppard at (800) 234-9461 ext. 138 or wsheppard@omag.org.

 

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