Chapter 7 Operations & Maintenance


Utility crew members in the field

Wastewater staff is responsible for all day-to-day operations and maintenance (O&M) activities associated with the approximately 224 miles of sanitary sewer pipe ranging from two to 42 inches in diameter; approximately 4,000 manholes and 1,000 cleanouts; 33 sewer lift stations; over 1,860 residential, commercial and multi-family STEP systems; and one community onsite sewage system. This chapter discusses O&M staff organization, and O&M activities: routine and preventive maintenance, computerized maintenance management, small scale repair projects, emergency response, and training. Emerging trends and needs are discussed.

7.1 O&M Staff Organization

Wastewater system O&M staff draws from two work groups in the Public Works Department. Wastewater/Stormwater Operations staff operates and maintains both sanitary sewer and stormwater collection systems (including gravity sanitary sewers; force mains; catch basins and manholes; STEP tanks, mains and service lines; and community onsite systems). Additionally, a pump crew supervised by Pump Stations Operations maintains all wastewater lift stations. Allocating staff time based on similar kinds of work and required skills across the Utilities has proven effective in making the most of limited resources. Cost and funding is managed separately for the various work efforts.

The Wastewater Utility funds 11.2 FTEs for the operation and maintenance activities listed below. Some employees are partially funded and used by the Stormwater and/or Water Utilities thereby making a full position.

• Wastewater/Stormwater Operations Supervisor (0.5 FTE).

• Pump Stations Supervisor (0.5 FTE)

• Wastewater /Stormwater Lead Worker (0.5 FTE).

• Data Control Specialist (0.375 FTE).

• Maintenance Worker II (5.5 FTE). Four and a half employees are assigned to work on pipe cleaning and TV inspection and one employee on STEP systems.

• Maintenance Worker I (0.5 FTE).

• Utility and Pipe Locator (0.33 FTE).

• Maintenance Technician (2 FTE), assigned to wastewater lift station O&M.

• Remote Systems Technician (1 FTE), assigned to operation and maintenance of the wastewater telemetry system, as well as controls and electrical equipment.

7.2 Routine and Preventative Maintenance

The operations staff maintains the wastewater system on a daily basis through a system of both scheduled work and response to priority problems. Distinct activities address the needs of gravity sewer lines, lift stations, STEP systems and community onsite septic systems. Taken as a whole, these activities are essential to minimizing threats to public and environmental health.

Gravity Sewer Lines

Operation and maintenance of the many gravity sewer pipes ensures efficient and unobstructed sewer flows, since neglect can lead to overflows. Pipes are susceptible to accumulation of sludge, soil and debris. Roots commonly force their way into cracks in pipes and must be removed.

Cleaning underground pipes requires specialized truck-mounted equipment (vactor truck) capable of water jetting pipes and retrieving the materials. The wastewater vactor truck often works in conjunction with the pipe televising van to both clean and inspect the pipes.

On an annual basis, the maintenance of gravity sewer lines entails:

• Routine cleaning of approximately 200,000 feet of gravity pipes.

• Televising approximately 160,000 feet of pipe.

• Removing roots in 30,000 feet of pipe.

• Cleaning 27,000 feet of problematic pipes, mainly due to low flow, flat slope, and/or grease.

• Responding to approximately 200 unanticipated problems/call-outs.

Additionally, the operations crew responds to emergencies such as pipe breaks and sewer overflows. These responses take priority over scheduled maintenance and often interfere with ongoing productivity and efficiency. Responses are often after hours.

Efforts are ongoing to improve efficiencies and effectiveness of operations work. Typical work is coordinated between office and field staff and includes:

• Improving mapping of the pipe systems as well as the availability of online maps in the field.

• Managing work orders through our asset management software in order to better understand the time and resources expended on specific types of work and individual system components.

• Prioritizing work in high maintenance and highly vulnerable areas.

• Incorporating new technologies.

• Developing problem solving teams to track and address reoccurring problems.

Other activities such as small-scale projects to repair or replace pipes and manholes, as well as television inspection and condition rating of gravity sewer lines are described in separate sections below.

As the City’s pipe system grows, these maintenance needs and the personnel needed to perform them will increase. This Plan projects the needs to increase operations and maintenance staff in the long-term.

Lift Stations

Lift (pump) stations and force (pressure) mains are used to convey wastewater from a low point in the collection system to a higher elevation from which it can continue flowing by gravity. The City currently owns and operates 30 lift stations, and operates three privately-owned lift stations through contractual arrangements. Failure of any of the critical lift station components can lead to significant, ongoing wastewater overflows.

Electronic telemetry, also known as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) equipment, monitors operations continuously at each lift station and signals any malfunction to the SCADA communications center at the City’s Maintenance Center. A telemetry failure prompts an immediate response by O&M personnel. The number of wastewater lift stations in concert with the extensive drinking water pumping system necessitates effective telemetric monitoring of the stations.

The Pump Stations crew checks each lift station monthly to verify proper operation and ensure emergency preparedness. The crew also completes many mechanical and electrical improvements to the stations including:

• Pump replacements

• Emergency generator installations

• Monitoring upgrades

• Site and building maintenance

Over the course of the past seven years, 14 of the 33 existing lift stations have been upgraded in one form or another. These improvements are essential to providing sewer service without serious system failures. This Plan will ensure that lift station upgrades are proactive rather than in reaction to failures.

As Olympia grows, especially in outlying areas, the use and number of lift stations increases. Pump crew staffing will also need to increase.

STEP Systems

The City owns and operates 1,860 STEP systems located on individual privately- owned parcels (for details see Chapter 3), including 20 commercial and multifamily systems. STEP systems serve approximately 12 percent of the Utility’s residential sewer customers.

Maintenance of these systems is labor intensive. Systems are typically located near the street within the yards of individual residences. All systems are inspected every one to two years, depending on size and complexity. Residential STEP systems are scheduled for maintenance and removal of solids once every seven years and commercial STEPS every one to four years, depending on size and use. Regular maintenance includes pumping the tank and removal and cleaning of screens, pumps and level controls. Maintenance of STEP systems requires one dedicated staff person as well as contractor services for tank pumping.

Operational problems with individual STEP systems can result in overflows. With this in mind, a system failure prompts the resident to notify wastewater staff. In turn, staff inspects and repairs the system, often after hour normal work hours. Given the high number of systems in the City, a relatively high level of maintenance is needed to minimize time-consuming and costly emergency responses. Significant strides have been made in recent years to bring maintenance and emergency responses down to manageable levels.

COSS Systems

At one time, Olympia owned and operated three community onsite sewage systems (COSS). Two of them have recently been abandoned in place and are now connected to the public sewer collection system. Regular maintenance of the remaining system on Devoe Street in the northeast UGA is similar to that of commercial STEP systems, with the tanks being pumped once every two years. From a maintenance perspective, the installation of new COSS is discouraged. Maintenance of the remaining one COSS is manageable.

Services Provided to LOTT

Under the 2000 intergovernmental agreement establishing the LOTT Clean Water Alliance, Olympia can be called upon to provide certain services to maintain the regional LOTT wastewater management facilities. These services vary from year to year and can include cleaning of the dump basin used by onsite system service firms and the centrate line at the Budd Inlet treatment plant.

At a minimum, services provided to LOTT include availability of staff and/or equipment during potential emergencies. Executed in 2012, a Mutual Aid Agreement between the four local jurisdictions and LOTT is now in place for coordinated and joint emergency response.

7.3 Asset Management and Condition Rating

The 2007 Wastewater Management Plan emphasized the need to develop and implement systematic asset management including computerized maintenance management and condition rating for gravity sewer lines. Software programs are being used by both O&M and Wastewater Planning staff in order to track the status and needs of the extensive infrastructure system. More work in this area of operations and maintenance is needed.

Computerized Maintenance Management System

Computerized systems facilitate the tracking of infrastructure condition, operational needs, and completed maintenance. Individual components of the overall system including pipe sections and manholes are tracked. Our computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) uses Vueworks software, installed in 2011. It reduces system-wide maintenance in favor of site-specific maintenance designed to meet the needs of the specific component. With this system, high maintenance components are serviced frequently; low maintenance ones less frequently. Service requests are submitted in Vueworks and work orders are generated and tracked by location using GIS. Equipment inventory is also managed by CMMS.

Field crews use the system for up-to-date, detailed information on infrastructure components as they work. Having field access to GIS technology allows them to efficiently retrieve comprehensive information about the infrastructure.

Improving asset management will continue to be an ongoing priority of the wastewater program.

Televising and Condition Rating

O&M crews and engineering staff use television inspection and condition rating of gravity sewer mains to evaluate structural integrity and identify O&M and construction features. The ability to see the underground pipe systems is essential to effective management.

The televising system gives staff the ability to look at pipes and document its design and intricacies. The distance that the underground camera travels is recorded, allowing staff to locate pipe features and problem areas. Using industry standards, the structural condition of the pipe can be assessed and documented. With repeated televisings, changes in the condition of a pipe over time are tracked.

The televising and condition rating program feeds staff with a list of priority repairs. Some of the repairs are small and can be corrected by City construction staff. Others evolve into extensive design and construction projects. Regardless of the project’s scale, the condition rating program catches problems and facilitates their timely correction.

The program is implemented by a one-person television inspection van equipped with the industry standard Pipeline Assessment Certification Program coding and Granite XP software, installed in 2008. Wastewater planning and implementation staff manage the condition rating information and initiate, schedule and prioritize most minor and major repairs.

Since 2005, approximately 900,000 feet (170 miles) of sewer pipe has been televised and condition rated. Work continues, with initial inspection of the entire system expected to be complete in 2014. Potential problem areas will be re-televised on a regular schedule.

As televising and condition rating needs for the gravity pipe system decline after 2014, the integrity of other components of the wastewater infrastructure may warrant inspection and tracking. Manholes, force mains, and lift stations would all benefit from ongoing asset management tracking. The location and condition of private systems such as the lateral pipes connecting homes to the gravity system in the street are largely unknown. We can anticipate the future need for a better understanding of these systems. The level of staff and equipment dedicated to televising and condition rating needs to be maintained and potentially expanded.

7.4 Small Scale Repair Projects

The capacity of the Wastewater Utility to routinely construct small-scale wastewater systems repairs and upgrades has greatly increased since 2007. Instead of relying upon private contractors, in-house staff and necessary construction equipment are available. This construction ability is effective and cost efficient.

Typical annual in-house repairs include the following:

• Approximately 70 pipe repairs

• 5-10 manhole repairs, replacements or new installations

• In the last two years, 2-4 sanitary cross connections with stormwater infrastructure have been disconnected or otherwise eliminated.

Work in this arena will continue and potentially grow as the condition rating program identifies needed pipe repairs.

7.5 Emergency Response and Mutual Aid

In September 2012, Olympia and the other LOTT partners signed an Interlocal Agreement for Sanitary Sewer Emergency Response Mutual Aid, to enable mutual assistance in the event of a sewer overflow involving assets owned by either LOTT or member jurisdictions.

In 2013, the City updated its Emergency Response Plan (see Appendix H), documenting procedures the City follows to protect public and environmental health and safety during a sewer overflow or other emergency event. It describes the roles and responsibilities for managing various types of emergencies, and details general procedures that are followed during and after an emergency situation. The plan parallels LOTT’s emergency response plan, and includes cooperative arrangements with LOTT and neighboring cities.

7.6 Training and Certifications

Staff certification and training programs are in place, consistent with Washington State Wastewater Collection Personnel Association recommendations. Our goal is to have all sewer operations staff trained and certified at the Wastewater Collection Specialist I level; the Operations Supervisor will be trained at the Specialist II level.