John Hicks, City of Glendale on successful implementation of Sewer System Management Plan

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.

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Megan Barillo

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