Deteriorating infrastructure continues to plague municipalities across the U.S., compromising local budgets and natural resources. Utility officials nationwide are actively searching for innovative strategies to circumvent these problems. When the Cary ville-Jacksboro Utility Commission (CJUC), located 36 miles north of Knoxville, Tenn., began restoring its collection system, it successfully avoided $13 million in equipment upgrades and $18,000 in energy costs in just one year of implementation.
The utility first initiated a system-wide evaluation to reverse years of collection system inefficiencies and deterioration. Frank Wallace, CJUC executive secretary, employed several methods of investigation to create a system that would fully meet the community's present and future needs. Successfully restoring the collection system not only reduced key problem areas, but offered CJUC substantial savings. Wallace knew that resourceful measures were necessary to save ratepayers from runaway expenses in many areas. Aside from high energy consumption, CJUC faced capacity and environmental impacts from inflow and infiltration (I&I). Its collection system had numerous entry points for ground and storm water intrusion. I&I caused peak flows to rise above maximum capacity during rain events, which often overburdened the treatment plants. In extreme cases, the excess volume caused backups and bypasses to occur. This not only was challenging treatment plant capacity, but it also was shortening equipment life and increasing energy costs.
Devising a Plan
In 2000, Wallace met with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials at a conference in Tennessee to discuss energy conservation and I&I reduction. He agreed to evaluate the collection system and implement a capacity, management, operations and maintenance (CMOM) program. Wallace also met with Tim Kazmier of Kazmier & Associates to discuss the managed supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system provided by Mission Communications for reducing operations and maintenance costs. SCADA systems are recommended for many CMOM programs to assist in gathering data.
CJUC did not have a SCADA system in place at that time. Instead, six employees made daily visits to assess its 49 pump stations. Conducting site visits at remote locations can be time consuming. Cellular-to-Web data transmission saves man-hours by giving personnel the convenience of accessing the information from any Web-enabled device.
'Forty-eight man-hours per day is the time that was spent conducting site visits,' Wallace said. 'This was time that could have been better spent elsewhere. We needed easy access to information on our remote stations.”