Chapter 6 Management Programs

In this chapter we describe the Wastewater Utility’s role and relationships within the Public Works Department and the overall City structure, our staff structure, and the six core services that we manage.

6.1 Organizational Relationships

Olympia’s Public Works Department is organized into four lines of business: Water Resources, Waste ReSources, Technical Services and Transportation. The three water-related Utilities (Drinking Water, Wastewater, and Storm & Surface Water) are managed under the leadership of Water Resources (see Figure 6.1 below). The Reclaimed Water Program is part of the Drinking Water Utility.

View Figure 6.1 Organizational Relationships

Technical Services supports Water Resources and the other lines of business by providing capital facilities engineering, design and construction management.

The Wastewater Utility is also supported by other City departments including:

• General Government - Oversight of City policies and legal issues as well as coordination of emerging issues.

• Administrative Services - Billing, payroll, financial planning and cash management.

• Community Planning and Development (CP&D) - Implementation of development regulations and long-range community planning.

Like other City utilities, the Wastewater Utility is responsible for its share of the City’s overhead expenses. These include a portion of the costs of Public Works administration and other City departments (e.g. City manager, legal and administrative services; computer and telephone networks; building rental, vehicles, insurance, maintenance and janitorial services).

6.2 Staff and Core Services


Each of the utilities provide a broad range of services employing diversely skilled workers. The keys to the success of the Wastewater Utility is both effective operation and maintenance of the wastewater infrastructure, and broad range planning, engineering and implementation services.

Given the relatively small size of the City, water-related Utility staff often share operation and maintenance responsibilities as needed. Additionally, the technical office staff of the Storm & Surface Water Utility and Wastewater Utility coordinate and share expertise.

The operation and maintenance of wastewater infrastructure, including lift stations, relies upon 10.2 full-time equivalent staff positions (FTEs). These staff serve the infrastructure. Typical duties include pipe televising and cleaning, pipe repairs, STEPs system and lift station maintenance, and emergency response. Chapter 7 is dedicated to a detailed discussion of operation and maintenance work and needs. Additionally, the Wastewater Utility employs 2.25 (FTEs) dedicated to planning, engineering and implementation: 0.5 FTE for the Engineering & Planning Manager, and 1.75 FTEs for two Water Resources Engineers. These staff members evaluate the wastewater infrastructure and support the overall wastewater program. They are responsible for the various Utility core services, except Operations and Maintenance, described below.

Core Services

Re-structuring the Wastewater Utility was one of the primary efforts of the 2007 Wastewater Management Plan. Since the adoption of that plan by City Council, the Plan’s strategies, objectives and actions have been implemented through the six core services described below.

The intent of this 2013 Plan is to continue using the six core services to implement the Strategies outlined in Chapter 9, providing a comprehensive wastewater program integrated with other City water-related work efforts.

The core services are:

1. Planning, Policy and Program Management (PPPM). Planning for long term needs, developing policies, managing programs and information, and annual budgeting.

2. Capital Facilities Program (CFP). Planning, scoping, budgeting, tracking and monitoring construction of public infrastructure projects.

3. Operation and Maintenance (O&M). Maintaining sewer pipes, lift stations, septic tank effluent pump (STEP) systems and community onsite sewage systems; conducting ongoing condition assessments of pipelines; responding to sewer overflows and other emergencies; and constructing small-scale repair projects.

4. Development Review, Code Enforcement and Technical Assistance (DR/CE/TA). Implementing wastewater regulations for new and existing private development; giving technical support to staff, customers and developers.

5. Monitoring, Research and Evaluation (MRE). Tracking environmental health implications of wastewater management. Ensuring that the program incorporates new technologies as they become available.

6. Public Involvement and Education (PIE). Involving and educating customers and the community on water resource issues such as conserving and reusing water, converting onsite sewage systems to public sewer conversion, finances and reducing solid waste.

Figure 6.2 illustrates how these core services function in concert. Along with O&M, PPPM develops and manages plans, policies and programs, in response to City policies, State/federal regulations and identified system needs. These are implemented by CFP and O&M (public infrastructure), DR/CT/TA (private infrastructure and customers), and PIE (citizens and businesses). The results in terms of program effectiveness are monitored by MRE, which feeds evaluative information back to O&M and PPPM for use in modifying policies or programs.

View Figure 6.2 Relationships between Wastewater Utility Core Services

Wastewater Program Outcomes

Implementation of this Plan’s Goals, Objectives and Strategies will provide a comprehensive wastewater program integrated with other City water-related work efforts.

Specifically, the program will be able to:

• Proactively understand, plan for and construct needed infrastructure.

• Operate and maintain the infrastructure so that public and environmental health is protected.

• Coordinate water quality improvement efforts with others involved in surface and groundwater management.

• Provide technical assistance to residents interested in converting from OSS to public sewer service.

• Plan for and manage sewer service in support of both new development and re-development.

• Manage utility funds responsibly and equitably.

• Respond to emerging issues.

• Communicate effectively with the community.

The following sections of this chapter describe each core service in more detail, including typical actions. Staff of the core services work together to address the Objectives identified in Chapter 9.

6.3 Planning, Policy and Program Management

Planning, Policy and Program Management helps coordinate the services of the Wastewater Utility. This core service supports all Wastewater Utility services, consistent with the City and Utility goals and strategies. We provide analysis and technical support to develop and employ best practices in wastewater management policies and programs. The work assists Operations and Maintenance in short and long work efforts.

Much of our work focuses on resolving a conflict or issue sustainably, i.e. taking into account the protection of public and environmental health while minimizing financial impacts to individuals, developers and rate payers. This is an essential aspect of integrated water resource planning and engineering, particularly in an increasingly urban setting.

Typical actions are:

1. Manage implementation of the Wastewater Management Plan. We help keep program core services oriented towards overall City goals and policies.

2. Analyze existing policies and potential revisions, interpret regulations and help implement necessary changes. Wastewater policies and associated regulations are often complex and challenging to implement on a case-by-case basis. The financial interests of individual property owners, developers and the City can conflict as the challenges of collecting and conveying wastewater from increasingly outlying areas to LOTT regional facilities become more demanding.

3. Provide policy and technical resources to manage emerging issues and needs.

4. Maintain staff relationships with LOTT and neighboring jurisdictions in order to address common issues such as shared water quality challenges in overlapping watersheds, planning for emergency response, providing sewer service to areas not currently served, budgeting/rate setting, and long-range planning.

6.4 Capital Facilities Planning

Capital facilities are publicly-funded construction projects that meet a community need, such as safely conveying wastewater from homes and businesses to treatment facilities. Our capital facilities planning is based on a thorough understanding of the function and condition of existing infrastructure, and includes forecasting future needs and responding to unanticipated problems.

Typical capital projects are repair or construction of gravity sewers, lift stations and pressurized sewer and STEP pipes. Capital projects are financed through utility rates, general facilities charges (GFCs) paid by new development for connecting to and utilizing existing City wastewater systems, bonds and loans. See Chapter 10 for more information regarding the development of the Capital Facilities Plan for the Wastewater Utility.

6.5 Operations and Maintenance

The Wastewater Utility’s Operations and Maintenance services are familiar to many people, who see crews at work cleaning, televising and maintaining sewer pipes and facilities. Our field crews maintain, repair and upgrade the City’s extensive wastewater infrastructure to prevent spills and repair leaks.

Operations and maintenance is important to the infrastructure-dependent Wastewater Utility, accounting for over 60% of the utility’s budget in 2012. Chapter 7 provides detailed information regarding this core service, including typical actions and emerging needs.

6.6 Development Review, Technical Assistance and Code Enforcement

While the Capital Facilities and Operations and Maintenance core services are responsible for the existing public wastewater infrastructure, this core service focuses on the review of new wastewater facilities that will connect to and/or become public facilities, technical assistance for existing systems on private property, and actions on violations.

Typical actions are:

1. Review proposed new wastewater infrastructure. We work with property owners and developers during plan review to ensure compliance with local and State wastewater regulations, and provide technical support to the City’s Community Planning and Development Department (CP&D) permitting and inspection processes. Our focus is on managing wastewater flows in accordance with long-term system goals for utilizing existing pipe capacity, minimizing lift stations, and increasing the potential to serve areas of infill and onsite sewage systems.

2. Provide technical assistance to wastewater customers. As wastewater concerns and regulations become more complex and demanding, more customers request assistance from the City. We assist with such issues as replacing sewer laterals, converting from OSS to public sewer service, controlling odors, maintaining STEP systems and managing onsite systems. Resolving concerns from the development community and residents requires detailed knowledge about the sewer collection system.

3. Enforce illicit discharge and pretreatment regulations. Illicit discharges to the public sewer systems degrade water quality, expose the public to potential public health threats, increase maintenance needs, impact LOTT Alliance treatment facility performance, and may violate stormwater permit requirements. For example, the discharge of fats, oils and grease from food establishments clogs downstream pipes, increasing the need for routine maintenance and emergency response.

4. Provide GIS support. Supported by the City’s Information Technology group, our staff manages and supports digital information related to the Wastewater Utility, for use by various planning, CP&D and O&M staff.

6.7 Monitoring, Research and Evaluation

This core service helps accumulate and analyze information needed to plan, implement and evaluate the effectiveness of the Wastewater Utility, and keep Olympia up to date with current and emerging wastewater technology. It also helps integrate wastewater practices with other water resources responsibilities such as protecting water quality.

Typical actions are:

1. Provide resources for wastewater-related surface and groundwater monitoring. Unintended discharges from public sewers and onsite sewage systems are often diluted and intermittent, yet capable of closing shellfish beds, violating surface water standards and making groundwater undrinkable. Monitoring and isolating problems is often time consuming. As needed, our staff supplements existing City environmental monitoring programs, especially the Groundwater Protection Program and the Stormwater Ambient Monitoring Program.

2. Develop and maintain information systems for onsite sewage system (OSS) management. This includes maintaining a database of OSS locations and tracking failures, inspections, certifications and hookups. We coordinate this information with Thurston County records and reporting systems.

4. Explore and evaluate new and innovative wastewater technology. We actively pursue potential new technologies that can enhance our ability to provide sewer service to our customers, determine the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of the technology, and make recommendations for its application in Olympia.

6.8 Public Involvement and Education

Public and environmental health requires a participatory and responsible community. Public involvement and education activities are supported by the City of Olympia as an essential service of resource management programs.

Typical actions:

1. Support implementation of Plan priorities, particularly incentives options available for conversion to public sewer. This includes informing OSS owners and infill lot owners of incentives and opportunities for conversion of existing systems and hookups on infill lots.

2. Keep customers informed about Wastewater Utility activities, regulatory and rate changes. Our primary communication tools are Wastewater Utility bill inserts, media releases and direct mail.

3. Coordinate with regional partners in planning and implementing wastewater educational activities. In past years, the Wastewater Utility has helped fund onsite system maintenance workshops. 4. Inform and involve customers and other stakeholders in wastewater planning activities. In partnership with other utilities, we strive to keep the community informed on water resource and solid waste issues such as conserving and reusing water, reducing solid waste, and converting onsite sewer systems to public sewer. Activities include direct mail to stakeholders, media information, focus groups and workshops.