SAN DIEGO - City Plans $250,000 Computerized Sewer Pipeline Monitoring System : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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NOTE - Some background published March 23, 2000:

Rash of sewage spills causing alarm | Latest incident dumps 505,000 gallons in bay

So far this year, San Diego's Metropolitan Wastewater Department has compiled its worst raw sewage spill record in 14 years. And today is only the third day of spring.

Now, with the report of another huge spill, concern is turning into alarm over the seemingly never-ending series of sewage overflows.




Title: City plans $250,000 computerized sewer pipeline monitoring system By Terry Rodgers UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER March 30, 2000

SAN DIEGO -- San Diego is on track to become the first major city in the United States to install a computerized early-warning system to detect breaks within its gravity sewer pipelines, local sewer officials said yesterday.

The state-of-the-art pipeline monitoring system will cost about $250,000 and can be put into place within the next six months, Metro Wastewater Director Dave Schlesinger told a San Diego City Council committee.

The pipeline failure detection system was foremost among a series of sewage spill prevention measures that Schlesinger has ordered after a raw sewage spill last month that was the city's largest since 1986.

In his report to the council's Natural Resources and Culture Committee, Schlesinger said sewer department personnel each day are now checking data recorded by 114 flow meters within the 2,860-mile sewer delivery system to ensure no further major failures go undetected. The city previously checked the data once a week, but primarily for billing purposes.

The committee's chairman, Juan Vargas, said it's about time the city embraced modern technology to prevent sewer spills.

"The way we detect sewer spills is the way that the Romans detected spills -- that is, with their noses," Vargas said. "There has to be a better way. It's a new millennium."

Bruce Reznik of San Diego Baykeeper, an environmental group, agreed, saying that "it's not the job of the community to be the sewer police."

The city has drawn criticism from environmentalists for a recent rash of raw sewage spills that cumulatively represent the city's worst spillage record in the past 14 years.

A break at a raised manhole along Alvarado Creek near San Diego State University went undetected from Feb. 21 to 28, fouling Ocean Beach and parts of Mission Beach with 34 million gallons of raw sewage. The spill originally was estimated at 36 million gallons.

On March 16, a sewage overflow blamed on vandals who clogged a pipeline with chunks of concrete caused 505,000 gallons of untreated sewage to flow for 26 hours into San Diego Bay.

A city engineer recommended moving the Alvarado Creek sewer line to safer terrain in 1991, following a break that spilled more than 5 million gallons of raw sewage into the river. The same stretch of pipeline also experienced a major break in 1980.

Work to replace the vulnerable pipeline began in 1998 but was halted after the contractor had trouble drilling through rock beneath Interstate 8. That project has been put on an accelerated schedule and will be finished by September at a cost of $1.7 million, Schlesinger said.


-- (, March 30, 2000

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