2016 ACEC Honorable Conceptor Award: “Novel Measurement Process” – Berlin, MI

American Council of Engineering Companies of Michigan (ACEC/M) recently honored firms for engineering and surveying excellence during the association’s 51st annual Engineering and Surveying Excellence Awards ceremony Battle Creek. F&V’s “Novel Measurement Process Pinpoints I&I for Removal” project in Berlin Charter Township took home a 2016 Honorable Conceptor Award for engineering.

The award recognizes outstanding Michigan engineering and surveying projects from the past year, as well as engineering professionals who have significantly contributed to the profession.

Berlin Charter Township (Berlin) was caught between a rock and hard place after it spent a lot of money to fix one sewer problem and then had two more violation notice letters from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). The MDEQ was requiring excess clean water infiltration and inflow (I/I) be removed.Berlin officials had recently spent $1 million on a sewer lining project without significantly reducing the I/I. And after completing the first sewer lining project, Berlin officials were leery of doing more projects to reduce I/I. However, MDEQ made it clear that Berlin would not receive subsidized project funding until excess clean water I/I removal was demonstrated.

Hennessey Engineers, Inc., Berlin’s Engineer of Record, recommended Fleis & VandenBrink (F&V) to study Berlin’s wastewater flows and pinpoint the sources of I/I. I/I is clean stormwater and/or groundwater that enters the sewer system. Most infiltration comes from groundwater that seeps into the sanitary sewer system through cracks or leaks. The remedy for infiltration is repairing or replacing the leaking infrastructure. Most inflow comes from storm water via roof, yard and area drains, manhole covers, and storm drain cross connections. The remedy for inflow is to remove improper connections to the sanitary sewer system.

F&V integrated a technology called Mass Flow Monitoring (MFM) to help Berlin Charter Township find excess infiltration and inflow (I/I) in its sewer lines and right itself with MDEQ. Through MFM, a novel process of massive measurements and focused analysis designed to evaluate and pinpoint locations for I/I removal, F&V collected millions of measurements of depth, temperature and turbulence in 10 weeks.

A level / temperature/turbulence probe equipped with a data logger (e.g. FloStik®) was used at each location. The massive measurements not only helped locate the I/I quicker and cheaper than conventional I/I studies, but results exceeded the goals in the first project phase saving Berlin the need to invest in phase two.

Hennessey utilized the results of F&V’s MFM process and subsequent field validation work to design the collection system rehabilitation and eliminate Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs). The analysis diagnosed priority sections for rehabilitation, resulting in a reduction of flows by 50 percent and reduction of I/I by 85 percent.

A 40 percent reduction in I/I was the target to address MDEQ discharge violations in the 22 miles of sewer serving nearly 3,000 customer, approximately 4,000 residents.

By reducing the SSOs and eliminating sewer backups, Berlin Charter Township got a clean bill of health from MDEQ. MFM also saved Berlin an estimated $2.25 million in construction costs.


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