Water Environment Federation (WEF)

Developing an Effective Sanitary Sewer Management Plan Utilizing Innovative GIS Solutions

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Courtesy of Courtesy of Water Environment Federation (WEF)

As California’s wastewater collection system infrastructure begins to age, the need to proactively manage this valuable asset becomes increasingly important.

The first step in this process is to have a reliable reporting system for Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSOs). Although there are some data systems to record spills and various spill-reporting requirements have been developed, inconsistent requirements and enforcement have led to poor data quality. A few Regional Water Boards have comprehensively tracked SSOs over the last three to five years, and from this information we have been able to determine that the majority of collection systems surveyed have had SSOs within this time period. Both the San Diego and Santa Ana Regional Water Boards have issued WDRs over the last several years to begin regulating wastewater collection systems in an attempt to quantify and reduce SSOs. In fact, 44 out of 46 collection system agencies regulated by the San Diego Regional Water Board have reported spills over the last four and a half years, resulting in 1467 reported SSOs. Twenty-five out of 27 collection system agencies subject to the Santa Ana Regional Water Board’s general WDRs reported SSOs between the years of 1999-2004. During this time period, 1012 SSOs were reported.

The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) adopted Resolution 2004-80 in November 2004, requiring staff to work with a diverse group of stakeholders (known as the SSO Guidance Committee) to develop a regulatory mechanism to provide a consistent statewide approach for reducing Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs). The draft Waste Discharge Requirements (WDRs), reporting program, and associated documents result from a collaborative attempt to create a robust and rigorous program, which will serve as the basis for consistent and appropriate management and operation of sanitary sewer systems. In May 2, 2006, an updated regulatory draft, incorporating comments received from municipalities, was adopted by the State Water Resources Control Board requiring all municipalities in the State of California that owned or operated their sanitary sewer system to apply for WDR permits for their collection systems.

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