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Veolia North America

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Chicago, Illinois
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Regaining Capacity

With smart repairs and asset management, this collection system regained 1.9 MGD of capacity and discovered 61 miles of sewer

As U.S. cities everywhere struggle with challenging budget shortfalls and aging infrastructure, Taunton, Mass., offers a bold example of how a city can turn a consent order into cost savings and an opportunity to reduce energy consumption.

After identifying 61 miles of unrecorded sewer and making smart repairs to remove some almost 1,000 tons of debris, Taunton, with a population of 50,000, has demonstrated that there's money to be saved through smart maintenance - and the right partner.

Sandwiched between Boston and Providence, R.I., the city found itself under a consent order for longstanding issues involving its collection system. Taunton officials put out a competitive bid for help and Veolia Water emerged as the winning team, based on the company's knowledge and its environmental track record in the area.

Originally, the city believed it had 96.6 miles of sewer, but Taunton and Veolia soon found 61 additional miles that not been previously mapped.

These extra miles were discovered through visits to the field as well as old-fashioned detective work, as staff combed old sewer records to locate sewer segments that weren't on the original plans.

Every discovery was added to the revised map, and pipes were graded using the Pipeline Assessment Certification Program (PACP), establishing an accurate maintenance benchmark. Staff was also trained on Veolia's global underground asset management practices. As a result, the city now has a true picture of its sanitary sewer layer, and everything is digitally recorded and documented for future reference.

"The key word was collaboration," explains Aniceto Teves, Veolia's collections supervisor for the project. "Knowledge goes nowhere if it isn't shared and people aren't able to collaborate."

Successful Debris Removal

While doing the mapping, Veolia and the city found and addressed a number of water quality issues. The team removed 959 tons of debris, which regained the hydraulic capacity of 1.9 million gallons/day (MGD). It also removed 4.5 MGD of infiltration and inflow (I&I) from the collection system. These actions solved numerous inefficiencies:

  • Many homes were improperly connected to the Taunton River, not the system, so their untreated sewage discharged directly into the river either by storm drains or direct connect. Fixing these connections meant big water quality gains for the river.
  • The team identified many homes that were connected to city sewer, but not paying for city sewer. This has generated much needed revenue for the city.
  • Removing the debris resulted in huge energy savings. The city no longer wastes resources treating rainwater and groundwater that slips into the collection system due to poorly maintained pipes.
  • Regaining 1.9 MGD of capacity because of debris removal meant more space in the city's sewer system to accommodate heavy rainfall, helping prevent overflows, saving taxpayers on treatment costs and reducing pipe corrosion.
  • In removing 4.5 MGD of I&I, the team protected the environment from overflows, reduced treatment costs and lessened the need for expensive new projects to handle excess flow.

Multiple Benefits

Then there are benefits that can't be easily measured. These include cleanup costs and fines the city would have been forced to make under the consent decree. Moreover, through its underground asset management program and inspections of sewer tie-ins, Veolia has helped the city plan ahead in terms of sewer repairs and engage in trenchless rehab work when fixes are needed, thus saving Taunton and its taxpayers millions of dollars annually.

The extra hydraulic capacity regained through proactive repairs has another big benefit. Taunton now has the ability to meet some of the increasing demands to accept more sewerage from neighboring communities, which brings in more revenue for the City, a definite plus in these financially challenging times.

"Being able to work directly with the City on this project has been very rewarding," says Teves. "Ultimately, identifying 1.9 MGD of extra capacity through smart maintenance has all the benefits of a collection system expansion. But there's one big exception - it costs a lot less."

Could you benefit from an analysis of your underground infrastructure? Call Veolia at 312-552-2800 or else email at wave@veoliawaterna.com and we can answer any questions you may have.