Responding to Combined and Sanitary Sewer Spills

How good is your spill response system, particularly in emergencies? From the moment a call comes in reporting a sewer overflow, your system needs to help you manage crews and equipment, set public expectations, and keep costs to a minimum.

The Challenge

When a call comes in to report a sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) or combined sewer overflow (CSO) incident, the major priorities are to:

  • Get a crew to site as quickly as possible to confirm the spill
  • Determine the volume and map the extent of the spill
  • Diagnose the cause of the problem
  • Determine an appropriate response and carry out remedial action
  • Send a detailed incident report to the relevant statutory compliance authority and other stakeholders
  • Communicate with the residents and businesses affected
  • Record the details of the incident in a centralised data management system
  • Evaluate the response performance against agreed key indicators

Costs can ratchet up rapidly. Typically it takes a day for a field crew of four people to locate, diagnose, and document the spill. Call centre agents may have to handle hundreds of calls coming from citizens, essential services such as the police, or from utility staff. Combining all that information and communicating it to repair crews, regulators, and the public is time-consuming, potentially inefficient and ineffective. Wastewater authorities are under great pressure to minimize their spending and become more productive and performant in response to emergency events such as SSO/CSO incidents.

An incident response system should be an integral component of an asset management system. You've got an asset that's failed, and you need to know where it is, what it's made of, and what it's connected to. An asset management solution can help with all aspects of a spill and the reactive response from the utility.

In fact, it can also deal with asset-related management in lots of other contexts. Fresh water spills/bursts can be addressed in a similar way to sewer spills. Highways management is another example: assets such as drains and gullies need to be managed so that stormwater doesn't pool on the road surface, and asset management systems can keep a log of ponding, and manage the response. If there's a tanker accident and its load ends up in the drain, the asset management system can help to assess where the pollution might end up, enabling an informed response.

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The Solution

  • Capture the Problem and Alert the Crew

    When the call comes in, the agent or call handler must first locate the incident and capture all the details that the caller can provide. A good SSO/CSO response system provides on-screen mapping that the agent can use easily to locate where the spill has occurred, with forms that capture the relevant information simply and accurately. For example, there is no point in sending a field crew to an incorrect location. InfoAsset Mobile enables you to create your own forms so that agents can pick the incident type from a list of choices, add notes, and assign to a crew leader – automatically generating a digital SSO/CSO response package for the crew.

    Capture the Problem and Alert the Crew
  • Dispatch the Crew

    The SSO/CSO response package generated by the agent arrives in the crew's calendars on their field device (tablet/laptop) as a Work Order (WO) with both task and email notifications. The WO should deliver everything they need to respond effectively and quickly to the reported incident. It includes the documents required by the regulatory authority, guidelines and instructions for the field crews such as health and safety compliance, and the forms to be pre- populated with the relevant data regarding the incident. The WO will then form the basis for recording the detail of the SSO/CSO event.

    Dispatch the Crew
  • Mobilizing the crew in response to the reported incident

    InfoAsset Mobile provides all of this to the crews in the field on their mobile device (tablet/laptop) in a preconfigured and user designed form. It's the same data as used in the call center, with relevant data and information constructed from the existing asset management system. This ensures that everyone at the utility/wastewater authority is using a single version of the truth, displayed and presented in a format that's relevant and appropriate to their role.

    Mobilizing the crew in response to the reported incident
  • Define the Spill Area and Pinpoint the Failed Asset

    Once the crew is on site, InfoAsset Mobile provides a map with tools to enable the crew to accurately digitize the extent of the spill. To calculate the volume of the spill the crew can apply the “eye-ball” method, the measured volume method leveraging the area of the extent of the spill from the map, and a duration and flow rate method.

    Then they diagnose the cause of the failure, identify and locate the failed asset or assets on the map, and begin the process of recording the details of the spill. All of the required data and information for doing this is at their fingertips in the field.

  • Response to the failure, and the clean-up

    Using reliable data and information at their fingertips in the field, the crews are better equipped not only to evaluate the incident but also to determine and initiate an appropriate response, mobilize other field crews in support, and secure the resources and materials to solve the problem. InfoAsset Mobile is able to support the simplest and most complex workflows.

  • Report Back

    The crew now generate their report. InfoAsset Mobile provides the reporting tools to record the full details of the SSO/CSO incident, attaching a copy of the map showing the extent, sketches, photographs, videos, number of hours the crew worked, safety issues, traffic management needed, and the parts needed for repair. Once the WO has been completed, all the information and data collected in the field is uploaded to InfoAsset Manager in the office.

    Report Back
  • Share the Information

    All the information generated during the course of the response to the incident is automatically uploaded from the field to the InfoAsset Manager database in the office. This provides a persistent and perpetually managed centralized environment for the data and information which can be shared with the rest of the utility.

    InfoAsset Manager provides the necessary visualization, querying and reporting tools, enabling managers to assess the cause, effect, impact, and action taken to solve the incident. Managers do not have to waste time locating and retrieving information.

    They can also evaluate the performance of the field crews; determine the time between the initial report and closure of the incident; assess the response against pre-defined KPIs; calculate the extent and volume of the spill using a variety of measures; determine the detailed cost of the response, comparing estimated and actual costs of the clean-up; and more.

    It helps prevent future CSO/SSOs too. It collates and manages all the CSO/SSO incidents over time, and its analytics can identify hotspots, summarising the number of incidents over different time periods and identifying common causes, types of impacts and assets that fail – all of which help prevent further CSO/SSOs.

    InfoAsset Online provides a simple to use and intuitive web-browser interface to share and disseminate information and data with other stakeholders such as local officials and councillors, team leaders, and finance colleagues.

  • Monitor and Control Costs

    Because the asset management system updates its central database immediately and continuously, anyone who needs to check progress or costs can do so at any time, enabling monitoring, control, and persistent evaluation of the utility’s reponse to the SSO/CSO incidents against measurable KPIs including costs.

When you’re looking for an incident response system, check that the software you’re considering:

  • Collates, captures and reports on every aspect of SSO/CSO response
  • Automatically generates reports for regulators and stakeholders
  • Provides a single version of the truth to field- and office-based teams
  • Provides relevant and appropriate information to a variety of roles/personas, on desktop and mobile devices
  • Supports all office- and field-based workflows for incident response
  • Enables full configuration of map display and work order field forms, to ensure field crews use them
  • Can be used both online and offline in the field, with automatic synching when mobile data becomes available
  • Enables you to track and control costs, evaluate against KPIs and meet targets

Discover more about the software

  • SOLUTION

    Get the Best From Your Assets

    It’s surprisingly simple to get it all under control with a good asset management plan

  • SOLUTION

    Asset Management for Civil Infrastructure in Australia and Asia-Pacific

    How InfoAsset helps you get the best from your asset data, including CCTV, spatial and SCADA time series databases

  • CASE STUDY

    Western Virginia Water Authority

    WVWA involved its field staff in designing the forms they use to collect and use asset data across its water and sewer networks, ultimately improving the quality of its modeling.

SOLUTION

Get the Best From Your Assets

It’s surprisingly simple to get it all under control with a good asset management plan

SOLUTION

Asset Management for Civil Infrastructure in Australia and Asia-Pacific

How InfoAsset helps you get the best from your asset data, including CCTV, spatial and SCADA time series databases

CASE STUDY

Western Virginia Water Authority

WVWA involved its field staff in designing the forms they use to collect and use asset data across its water and sewer networks, ultimately improving the quality of its modeling.