Significant Risk of Flooding in Northern California Flood Preparedness and Response Tools for Water Utilities
Widespread flooding can cause major power outages and damage to drinking water and wastewater utilities. EPA has developed tools to help you mitigate the threat of flooding and take action during an emergency. You can use the resources below to increase your overall flood resilience and emergency preparedness.

Flooding Incident Action Checklist
Use this “rip and run” checklist to respond to and recover from flooding in your area. It outlines key actions that can be taken immediately before, during, and after the event to mitigate impacts.

Flood Resilience Guide
This interactive, user-friendly guide contains worksheets, best practices, videos and key resources to help water utilities build resilience to flooding. The Guide’s four main sections include:

  • Overview of flood resilience
  • Developing an approach to flood resilience
  • Identifying flood mitigation measures
  • Flood resilience pilot project

The Federal Funding for Utilities in National Disasters (Fed FUNDS) tool helps drinking water and wastewater utilities identify pre- and post-disaster funding opportunities and offers tips on how to apply.

Additional Resources
EPA Emergency Response for Drinking Water and Wastewater Utilities

Sponsored Webinar – CWEA Tech Talk
Know What’s Going on Inside Your Sewer System with Rehab Certification and Flow Monitoring

Join the discussion on the latest digital sewer system monitoring, testing and certification devices and find out how to monitor, manage and maintain your sewer system for maximum performance. This is webinar is sponsored by Electro Scan and ADS, sorry contact hours are not available.

Thursday, March 30th
11:00am to Noon
This is a free webinar

Register for the webinar >


Speakers include (l-r) Chuck Hansen and Mark Grabowski, Electro Scan; and Rob Larson, ADS

Presentation 1 by Electro Scan:
New Standards for Testing & Certification of Rehabilitation using Electro Scanning Inspection

New guidelines to certify rehabilitation, authored by Ken Kerri, Ph.D., P.E. & published in the new Wastewater Collection O&M manual, finds defects missed by CCTV.

Mark Grabowski, General Manager, Electro Scan, Inc.
Chuck Hansen, Hansen Holdings, LLC

What you will learn:

  1. Implement new guidelines to use Electro Scanning Inspection to prioritize critical sewers by potential infiltration – measured in gallons per minute – before rehabilitation.
  2. Why CCTV inspection should no longer be used to accept CIPP lining projects.
  3. Why California agencies are upgrading rehabilitation specifications requiring Electro Scanning Inspection to certify and accept trenchless lining, point repair, and new pipe installation projects.

Presentation 2 by ADS Echo:
Finally, a low cost, high performance manhole depth meter (ADS ECHO) that optimizes your collection system!

Learn about the many uses of affordable ECHO sewer depth meter and how the ECHO can make the lives of collection system operators much easier.

Rob Larson, Senior Account Executive, ADS Environmental Services

What you will learn:

  1. Learn about equipment and software that will prevent sewer overflows and avoid costly fines.
  2. Learn how to reduce un-needed sewer cleaning operations saving time and money
  3. Learn how to cost-effectively and quickly isolate inflow/infiltration in small basins.

Register for the webinar >

Have a new sewer technology you want to share during a future CWEA Tech Talk? Contact Alec Mackie (510.382.7800 x114) with your ideas.


The Manteca workshop featured 10 speakers.

The Manteca workshop featured 10 speakers. (photo by Jim Fisher)



This series of workshops was organized by CWEA’s Collection System Committee in partnership with the State Water Board.

The workshops were held in Manteca, Long Beach and Dublin in February 2017.

Today, sewer professionals are under extreme pressure – regulations, maintenance and impacts from the drought and sudden storms. CWEA along with the State Water Board are hosting these three regional training workshops to bring California’s sewer professionals together to discuss what’s working and the issues to watch for. Sewer professionals attended this workshop to listen to fellow sewer pros and State regulators about Sewer System Management Plans, enforcement actions and managing risks.

As the problem of “flushable” wipes clogging sewer pipes and pumps gets worse – every sewer agency is on its own in developing a public outreach campaign to share with people exactly what they should and should not flush down the toilet.

Clogged sewer lines were becoming a challenge for City of Santa Rosa crews, so their Environmental Compliance and Communication Teams came up with a catchy public outreach campaign called “Sewerman – Defender of the Pipes!” The campaign was rolled out in December 2016 and includes videos, social media outreach and a cool-looking cartoon strip.

The campaign joins several other creative anti-wipes  efforts including OCSD’s What2Flush; City of Seattle’s Flushing Awesome; Maine’s Save Your Pipes; and Washington DC’s Protect Your Pipes campaign.

The Sewerman video will immediately get your attention with its funny and memorable message. Which hopefully helps people remember to only flush the 3Ps – pee, poo and (toilet) paper. And that’s all.

We thought the campaign was so awesome, we wanted to learn more about this mysterious “Sewerman.” We reached out to Elise Howard, a Communications Coordinator at the City of Santa Rosa to tell us about the campaign.

Q1. Who thought up the superhero Sewerman and why?

Sewerman came to life in an internal brainstorming session with Santa Rosa Water’s Environmental Compliance and Communication teams.

His story started with the creation of the Sewerman video in-house and evolved into a comprehensive campaign with the help of a local firm, Ranch 7 Creative.

Special thanks to Sewerman and our Santa Rosa Water Team (Thomas Hare, Heather Johnson, Nicole Dorotinsky, Renae Gundy, Claire Meyers and Elise Howard) for creating this amazing video. Who knew it would be so easy to find a brown and yellow spandex superhero suit online?

(Renae, Heather and Thomas are CWEA members)

Q2. Do you have any cost or time estimates associated with the flushable wipes problems? 

Currently we do not have any quantitative data associated with the cost of wipes. That said Santa Rosa Water team does experience blockages in sewer pipes and pump stations and these not-so-flushable items end up at our treatment plant and increase cleaning and maintenance costs.


Q3. Who plays Sewerman? Or if his identity must remain a secret, what does Sewerman like to do in his downtime?

It is critical that Sewerman’s identity remain a secret, but I do happen to know that he loves playing the Ukelele in his downtime and modifying lyrics to popular songs to spread his message.

He also enjoys dancing and puns, and juggles a tiny bit, but not very well.

Q4. How did you get funding to develop the campaign, does the State Water Board help with public outreach dollars for what to flush outreach campaigns? 

The campaign is primarily fueled by Sewerman’s superhuman effort to educate the community about fighting THE CLOG.

Santa Rosa Water is supporting his cause by funding a multi-media campaign featuring Sewerman in paid advertising on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), radio (local stations and Pandora), Before the Movie ads, and local print publications. Sewerman is also featured on our website at

Q5. So what is Sewerman going to tackle next? Microbeads? Synthetic fibers? Silver nanoparticles? Pesticides? Dental amalgam? Wow we have so many things to tackle!

For now, Sewerman is very busy battling his nemesis, THE CLOG by swooping in to stop a not-so-flushable wipe from being flushed, warning citizens of the dangers of putting grease, oils, and other food products down the kitchen sink, and encouraging citizens to “Just Say No!” to flushing medications.!”

Q6. One last question inquiring sewer minds may want to know – any plans for Sewerwoman to join the wipes fighting team? And if we got Sewerman together with LA’s Grease Avenger, JWC’s Muffin Monster and the Texas Water Coalition’s Patty Potty – could we form our own Wastewater Justice League?

Sewerman is a big fan of teamwork and loves the idea of a Wastewater Justice League!  He’s kicked around the idea of adding Water Woman as a partner and would be over the moon if he ever got the chance to meet his personal favorite, Patty Potty.

Thanks Elise for introducing us to Sewerman, we’ll see if we can set something up with Patty Potty from Texas!

Learn more about Sewerman at

3Ps_Icons_CWEANews_500We’ve listed a few more California specific outreach campaigns here. Have a great idea for ending the flushable wipes crisis? Send your ideas to



A subcommittee of the Orange County Waste Discharge Requirements (WDR) Collection Systems Steering Committee (Committee) was formed to look at the current Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) program being implemented in central and northern (Northern) Orange County.

The current FOG program is over ten years old and has continued to be improved over that time through knowledge and information gained by cities and wastewater agencies (collectively referred to as Agencies) through implementation of the program, attendance at conferences, seminars, workshops and Permittee meetings.

An important goal of the committee was to look at how Agencies are implementing their FOG program, specifically, the requirements related to the use of grease control devices by food service establishments (FSEs). The Committee was interested in knowing whether there had been changes over time in the type of devices specified and quantifying the annual reduction in total and grease related sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs).

To answer these questions the Committee reviewed existing ordinances and literature, conducted Permittee surveys and gathered information from Committee member experience.

The results of these efforts culminated in the preparation of this report. The report begins with a history of the WDR program (Section II) and ends with an assessment of the number of SSOs occurring since the program’s inception (Section VII). Other sections provide information on the various grease control devices (GCD) used and what factors to consider when selecting an appropriate device. The report ends with a conclusion and recommendation section that provides a summary of the information presented and factors that may be considered when selecting a GCD.

View full report.

The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board) has entered into a settlement agreement with the city of Compton over the alleged discharge of raw sewage and other pollutants into Compton Creek for a period of approximately three years.

For the alleged discharges of untreated sewage to waters of the United States, Compton is liable for a civil penalty of $268,365. The city must also complete capital improvement and sewer master plan projects on its sanitary sewer system.

The Regional Water Board alleges that on at least eight different occasions, from December 2010 to October 2013, Compton experienced sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) that released pollutants and untreated sewage into Compton Creek. The Regional Water Board also alleges the city failed to report three of the eight SSOs as required. Untreated sewage can contain pathogens such as E. coli, salmonella, parasites, viruses and rotavirus that are harmful to public health. Discharges of untreated sewage to water bodies can also impact aquatic life and result in closed beaches.

“We continue to work to improve the older sewer systems in our region, such as Compton’s, that pose serious threats to public health and the environment,” said Samuel Unger, Regional Water Board executive officer. “The action we’ve taken against Compton, and other municipalities in our region that have faced similar issues, will help the city reduce its risk for sewage spills by upgrading infrastructure and putting protocols in place to guard against overflows. These upgrades will help reduce the amount of spills and protect the community and surrounding waterways.”

As part of the settlement agreement, Compton will pay $161,019 of the civil penalty to the State Water Pollution Cleanup and Abatement Account. The remaining $107,346 will be suspended if the city follows through on several projects to upgrade and monitor Compton’s sanitary sewer system. Those projects include initial and ongoing video analysis of the sewer system to identify areas where repair and upgrading is needed; inspecting the sewer system for hot spots every 90 days and performing maintenance and repairs as necessary; supplying quarterly progress reports to the Regional Water Board; implementing a root control program; hiring two new full-time staff and certifying all staff in collection system maintenance; reporting all SSOs to the Regional Board and other requirements.

To learn more about the settlement agreement and details related to the upgrade and maintenance projects, see the settlement agreement on the Regional Water Board’s enforcement website.

Todd Eising, Utilities Section Manager & Marcus Yasutake Environmental and Water Resources Director, City of Folsom provided these helpful tips and reminders on improving practice with the Sanitary Sewer Systems Waste Discharge Requirements (the SSS WDRs).

Ten years ago, the City of Folsom began implementing proactive operations and maintenance programs to better manage our Sanitary Sewer System.

Looking back over the 10 years of the waste discharge requirement (WDR), several things stand out. The requirements of the WDR are strategies that agencies should implement as part of the normal operations of the sewer system. These strategies will help agencies achieve compliance with the WDR.

An excellent tool that helps the City be proactive is to utilize the Audit Questionnaire that the State Board uses prior to an audit. I recommend filling out the Questionnaire as a test to see how an Agency is operating its system. Agencies should note the deficiencies in their answers and take the proactive steps for improvement.

Another recommendation is to keep an open dialog with your Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The City also recommends that Agencies have close communications between engineering and operations to make sure projects and improvements are coordinated.

John Hicks, Wastewater Maintenance Superintendent from City of Glendale, Glendale Public Works-Maintenance Services discusses the City of Glendale’s successful implementation of SSMPs since the Waste Discharge Requirements went into place 10 years ago.

The remarkable thing about California’s Waste Discharge Requirements (WDR) for Sanitary Sewers is that it implemented procedures and practices that a number of agencies were already using, albeit piecemeal. Virtually everyone agrees the rules are necessary to protect the waters of the state from contamination by sanitary sewer overflows.

The WDR remains truly a collection of best practices for our industry. While the metrics for statewide sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) prove the value of the program, the thing that is perhaps most noticeable is the absence of news headlines about overflows [the recent news out of the City of LA being a truly notable exception]. Prior to the WDR it seemed like large volume SSOs were in the press several times a month. That’s just not the case anymore. In fact, you rarely hear about sanitary sewers being an issue at all, and all of us in this business like it that way.

In its first five years the WDR helped to spur a lot of capacity improvement and infrastructure repair in the City of Glendale that was effectively collection system reliability “money in the bank.” Meanwhile, our City government had to deal with the funding fallout from the “Great Recession” which happened to “crater” right in the middle of the WDR’s first decade.

Sewer System Management Plan (SSMP) development was a challenge for us and many medium and smaller size agencies that lacked the staff resources SSMP development required. Plant maintenance remains a challenge for all agencies. Streamlining documentation and digitized record keeping are key objectives as we head into the second decade of the WDR. While the need for repair and replacement will continue to be our priority, new challenges for the state’s collection systems are being presented by the prolonged drought and the necessary water conservation efforts that reduce flows and debris transport.

Fortunately we have all learned a disciplined approach to maintaining our systems as required by the WDR. It is our guide as we deal with these new challenges.

Phil Scott, District Manager at West Bay Sanitary District, CWEA Immediate Past President

Phil Scott, District Manager at West Bay Sanitary District, CWEA Immediate Past President

It’s hard to believe the Waste Discharge Requirement (WDR) is 10 years old already but it has done a lot to congeal a statewide approach to sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) response and reporting by all of the state wastewater agencies. SSOs have been dramatically reduced all over the State and every agency that I know of has been extremely focused on improving maintenance, investing in Capital projects, and improving training on response and reporting of SSOs.

Though there have always been many agencies in the State that took SSOs seriously and worked hard to keep the flow in the pipes, in the early years of the WDR it was Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), that provided a monetary incentive for many agencies to comply with the WDR and work to reduce SSOs. Now it’s the State Water Resource Control Board and their Regional Boards that are credited with working with agencies to reduce SSOs to the greatest extent possible. I believe CWEA is integrally responsible for that transition with its partnership with the State Water Board in providing education on the WDR, the Monitoring & Reporting Program (MRP) and Best Management Practices all aimed at educating agencies on the regulations and how to further reduce SSOs.

Though there is always more work to do until we can completely eliminate SSOs, I’m proud to have been part of that partnership between State Water Board and CWEA in educating and training industry professionals in the proper response to, reporting of, and reduction of SSOs.

On the heels of the 10 year anniversary since statewide adoption of the SSS WDRs, we interviewed Jim Fischer, experienced Investigator and former statewide Program Manager at the State Water Resources Control Board.  Jim provides his perspective and feedback on what the program has accomplished and discusses a few of the key requirements, best practices observed, and lessons learned.
Christoph Dobson (CWEA Past President) and Jim Fischer

Christoph Dobson (CWEA Past President) and Jim Fischer

A sanitary sewer overflow (SSO), commonly called a “sewer spill” is an overflow or release of wastewater from a sanitary sewer system. SSOs often contain high levels of suspended solids, pathogenic organisms, toxic pollutants, nutrients, oil, and grease. SSOs pollute surface and ground waters, and threaten public health. SSOs can inundate properties, pollute rivers and streams, and cause the closure of beaches and other recreational areas.

1.What is California doing to reduce SSOs? California has a comprehensive SSO reduction program. California lawmakers in early 2000s realized the need to deal with SSOs (see Water Code section 13193). In response, on May 2, 2006, the State Water Board adopted Sanitary Sewer Systems Waste Discharge Requirements (the SSS WDRs), the most advanced regulations in the nation. The regulations provide a regulatory framework for SSO notification, reporting, and sewer system management. The Sewer System Management Plan (SSMP) is the cornerstone in the regulations, which aims to reduce SSOs by proactively requiring proper and efficient management, operation and maintenance, while taking into consideration risk management and cost benefit analysis*.  Additionally, our Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the California Water Environment (CWEA) has been a tremendous help over the past 10 years with improving compliance with its extensive training efforts on the regulations. *See Finding 5 on page 2 of the SSS WDRs at:

Picture62. What’s your role in the program? Since early 2008, I’ve had the pleasure of working with many of the top system maintenance operators all over the state, while managing the State Board SSO Reduction Program before moving to the Office of Enforcement to lead our statewide SSO Enforcement Initiative.  Conducting SSO investigations, inspecting sewer systems, and assisting regional board with enforcement actions and training are some of my current roles.  This “real world” experience has helped us build our technical understanding about many leading SSO “best practices” to more accurately audit sewer operations, maintenance, and management programs. Read more

Dan Duffield of the Richmond Municipal Sewer District, CWEA member and Environmental Compliance Inspector Grade 4 is quoted in a recent story in the Municipal Sewer and Water magazine about how the District is keeping infiltration and inflow (I&I) at bay.

Dan Duffield looks over drawings in the Richmond Utilities Department planning room. – Photo by Municipal Sewer and Water Magazine

Richmond Municipal Sewer District sets an example with its work to reduce SSOs and protect San Francisco Bay.

Richmond, California, enjoys 32 miles of coastline, the most of any city in the San Francisco Bay Area, but this geography has its downside.

“During heavy or prolonged rain events, our treatment plant flow can increase from 5 mgd to 40 mgd,” says Dan Duffield, source control inspector for the Richmond Municipal Sewer District.

The I&I comes from direct tidal inflow in the southern basin near the Bay, groundwater infiltration from tidal saturation, storm runoff inflow from connections between stormwater sources (downspouts and sumps) and the sewer system, and rainfall-dependent infiltration. Many Bay Area communities experience similar issues.

“The goal of our sewer collections system master plan is to eliminate SSOs during conditions up to a 10-year 24-hour storm event,” Duffield adds. “That equates to 4.2 inches of rain in 24 hours, and could send 70 mgd to the plant. As our collections system is repaired and I&I is reduced, that reduction will be the measure of our success.”

Baykeeper agreement

In 2002, the district contracted with Veolia North America (formerly U.S. Filter), a provider of environmental services in cleaning, energy, waste and water. Beginning in September 2014, Veolia now runs the treatment plant and collections system. It was an auspicious start to I&I management, but more was soon to be needed.

The original master plan was conceived in 2006, when RMSD entered into an agreement with San Francisco Baykeeper, an NGO founded in 1989 to protect water quality in the Bay Area. Baykeeper wields considerable power with extensive grass-roots support — and it was threatening a lawsuit.

“That was a controversial time,” recalls Richmond Mayor Tom Butt. “I’ve always supported the Clean Water Act, knew we had some problems, and wanted to do what was right for the Bay. And the law was on Baykeeper’s side. The EPA counts on local organizations to do their enforcement, so that’s where Baykeeper came in.”

As a result of this agreement, RMSD was required to reduce SSOs by 90 percent by 2016, and to eliminate overflows into the Bay from their two engineered overflow weirs. The 5-million-gallon wet weather storage facility was also a result of this agreement.

See the full story here: California Utility Keeping I&I at Bay


IMG_9155The CWEA State Collection System Committee summer meeting is July 29th & 30th at the Veteran’s Memorial Building in Morro Bay.


Cost to attend is $60. If you are interested in attending, please contact Lenny Rather via email at or by calling 510.816.6977.

Download the flier for more details: Summer Meeting July 29-30 2016 Flyer (pdf)


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