MSD has a need to comply with the requirements of the Federal Consent Decrees, a desire to demonstrate water quality improvements at the lowest cost to the ratepayers, and a goal to be on the forefront of water management practices. As its first response, MSD developed an innovative planning process that resulted in the EPA-approved sustainable watershed approach (SWEPP) and business case evaluations to drive its capital improvements. This process has been fully implemented at MSD. However it is imperative for the protection of public health and the environment that MSD not only plan for a sustainable watershed, but also operate and maintain its system in a sustainable, watershed-centric way. Therefore MSD’s second response is to implement an innovative approach for operations as well, one which can leverage data and technology to maximize the performance of its assets and minimize their impacts on receiving streams. This approach picks up where innovative planning leaves off: it demonstrates MSD’s compliance with the Consent Decrees, quantifies performance and costs, and provides feedback to the planning process for the next round of capital improvements.
Description of Watershed Operations
The Watershed Operations Division was created this year to champion a new approach to operations. Its vision is a wastewater collection and treatment system that is operated in a cohesive fashion to maximize the protection of public health and minimize the impact on receiving stream water quality. Watershed Operations will be working between and among the other operational divisions to achieve its mission to use operational optimizations to improve water quality at the lowest cost.
Since the greatest impacts to public health and water quality are experienced during wet weather, this Division focuses its attention on the operation and maintenance of assets built to handle wet weather flow, specifically high-rate treatment facilities, real-time control facilities, and green infrastructure installations, with the has identified ultimate objective of lowering the total life-cycle cost of ownership for the ratepayer. The following strategies have been identified:
1. Monitor existing assets to demonstrate performance against design criteria
2. Use real-time data and global control algorithms to optimize performance of entire system during wet weather
3. Apply industry best practices to the maintenance of wet weather assets
4. Collaborate with stakeholders to improve the health of the watersheds
5. Engage innovators to find new technology solutions to the CSO challenge
Immediate Priorities for the Division
MSD is focused on the identifying key short-term needs and developing a framework to implement the following key objectives for the new Division.
1. Inventory Watershed Data – collect data from multiple sources
2. Visualize Watershed Conditions – present data graphically and monitor conditions
3. Perform Analytics – apply data analytics for decision making
4. Recommend Watershed Based Assets – develop assets to store and treat flows
5. Control System-Wide Flows – optimize control of watershed assets to reduce overflows and utilize available system capacity
MSD is intent on finding innovative solutions to this extraordinary challenge. If you have innovative ideas or cutting-edge technology solutions, please check out the Innovator’s Corner on the right side of the page to learn more.