Jan 06, 2020

Data-Driven Monitoring Tackles Cleaning

sanitary sewer overflows

When faced with a U.S. EPA Consent Decree with an estimated cost of $1 billion, the San Antonio Water System (SAWS), adopted the EPA’s Capacity, Management, Operations and Maintenance guidelines. 

It instituted high-frequency cleaning—monthly, bimonthly, quarterly, semi-annually and annually—for 110,000 manholes and pipeline segments whether those sites needed cleaning or not. 

Without underground visibility, sewer operators routinely cleaned the same pipes, which resulted in a “high-frequency cleaning cultures.” 

SAWS wanted to switch from a calendar-based cleaning system to a real-time, condition-based one. It wanted to decrease wear and tear on pipelines and refocus resources, such as time, labor and money, on other activities.

To do so, it integrated SmartCover’s data-driven monitoring and decision support to improve its understanding of the system, optimize cleaning routines and protect human and environmental health. 

Since implementing the SmartCover system, there have been 65 cleanings, a decrease from the previous 1,246 cleanings. SAWS has seen a 95% reduction in cleaning and zero sanitary sewer overflow incidents with 216 sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) “saves,” which equates to more than $1 million in savings based on the average spill cost of $5,000.

In addition to these benefits, human and equipment resources were freed for other needs, risk to staff and SAWS’ carbon foot print were reduced, and management now has access to more data to prioritize capital investments. 

The the results have not only lowered cleaning costs while preventing SSOs, but SAWS also was able to deploy a smart infrastructure solution with fast payoff and stable ROI.  

Project Year:
Contractor: SmartCover Systems and ACE Pipe
Designers: SmartCover Systems
Owner: San Antonio Water System (SAWS)
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Cost: $300,000
Size: 70 miles of sewer line

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