Identifying excess water in sewer systems can be critical for many Michigan communities, especially those with consent agreements to stop overflows at their wastewater treatment plants.
Unfortunately, accurately identifying the source of excess water, known as infiltration and inflow (I/I), can be frustrating, time consuming, and costly for municipal leaders. I/I can inundate sanitary sewers, decrease the efficiency of treatment, and cause sewage volumes to exceed design capacity.
Excess flows may affect the quality of treatment at your plant or cause overflows of untreated or partially treated wastewater to a nearby lake or river creating health hazards and costly permit violations. Failure to get the water out of the system can also force communities to install bigger sewers and expand the wastewater plant.
Inflow is caused by storm sewer system connections to sanitary sewers, leaking manholes and covers, and leaky clean-out caps. Infiltration is caused by groundwater seeping into sewers that have cracks, open joints, or other deficiencies due to age, improper construction or damage.
Although inflow is technically different from infiltration, it may be difficult to determine which type of clean water is causing issues; and even harder to find the sources.
“It’s been frustrating trying to locate infiltration and inflow, especially in an older community like Pontiac,” said Brian Coburn, chief engineer for the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner’s office which oversees the 135-mile Pontiac Sewer Disposal System.
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