We developed this approach in conjunction with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and several leading wastewater collection system experts.
The overall goal of the evaluation process is the elimination of sewer overflows, as much as feasible, including short-term focus on the underlying causes of sewer overflows and the practices that can be improved to minimize or eliminate them.
The approach provides a thorough assessment of the means and methods utilized to manage, design, build, operate, and maintain a community’s wastewater collection system. This method documents present practices, identifies information gaps, and makes recommendations to improve system performance.
The structured approach consists of several steps: a document and records review, staff interviews, observation of field practices, a workshop to review findings and make recommendations for improvement, and the development of a prioritized implementation plan.
The document and records review is oriented toward developing brief summaries of strategies, programs, and procedures that can go into a formal CMOM plan. The documents and records are evaluated to determine the degree to which they describe and document the adequacy of a utility’s current management, operation, and maintenance practices. A list of typical documents and records to be reviewed can be viewed here.
The purpose of the staff interviews is to develop a general understanding of a utility’s management philosophy and strategic goals for customer service, regulatory compliance, asset management, and workflow protocols. It is intended to assess the scope of the utility’s management, operation, and maintenance program; the use of information systems; and inter-divisional coordination and communication.
Staff members to be interviewed should come from a diagonal slice (top to bottom) of the utility’s organization and should include representatives of all job functions associated with collection system management, operation, and maintenance.
Field observations are conducted to determine the effectiveness with which actual collection system operation and maintenance practices and procedures are employed. These observations confirm the consistency of the utility’s field procedures with its policies, procedures, and current industry standards.
After the appropriate staff members have been interviewed, field practices observed, and documents and records reviewed, a draft assessment is generated and a workshop is held with senior utility managers and the assessment team. The purpose of the workshop is to confirm the initial findings, identify areas for improvement (gaps), and develop the framework for a utility-specific implementation (gap closure) plan for program improvement. During this workshop, the initial findings may be adjusted to more adequately reflect the current program.
The last step of the approach is the finalization of the implementation plan and all associated assessment documentation. The implementation plan is prioritized to meet the specific demands and circumstances associated with the management, operation, and maintenance of the community’s collection system.
Assessment documentation includes an executive summary describing the steps of the assessment process, a business practices evaluation detailing the assessment findings, a score sheet documenting the extent of the utility’s current program development and highlighting the opportunities for improvement, and a prioritized matrix with suggested program improvements – the implementation plan.
As part of the structured-approach development process, three utilities volunteered to have their collection system management, operation, and maintenance programs assessed utilizing the process. The results of the collection system evaluations for Saratoga County Sewer District Number 1, New York; the City of Somersworth, New Hampshire; and the Village of Boonville, New York have been made available to be used as a learning tool for communities of similar size and configuration.