Teamwork Earns Utility 2013 Award for Excellence in Innovation

Teamwork Earns Utility 2013 Award for Excellence in Innovation
From left, Catherine Gerali, WERF chairman and district manager of Denver Metro Wastewater Reclamation District; Jim Johnson, lead project engineer at SPU; Andy Lukas, vice president of Brown and Caldwell; and Marilyn Shepard, Sanipor.

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Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and Brown and Caldwell received the Award for Excellence in Innovation from the Water Environment Research Foundation at WEFTEC in Chicago. The award recognizes the team’s work to improve the flood grouting process that has allowed SPU to cope with frequent wet-weather sanitary sewer backups and overflows in the city’s Broadview neighborhood. This project adds a new tool to the infiltration reduction toolbox. 

“The flood grouting project is a successful example of applying asset management principles, through the business case process,” said Bob Jacobsen, senior engineer at Brown and Caldwell. “This has been a very successful project, through both the application of a new technology to reduce backups and the use of asset management to assess the project’s costs and benefits.” 

For SPU, the project has had significant impacts: It reduced sewage volumes by 66 percent and reduced peak flow rates by 41 percent, shaving the odds of basement backups and SSOs. Through the business case process, the project resulted in a positive net present value — all with overwhelming public support. 

Andrew Lee, capital portfolio management manager for SPU, said, “SPU is already putting to use the lessons learned from this project. We are considering expanding the use of flood grouting throughout the Broadview basin to cost-effectively reduce infiltration and thereby reduce the frequency of sewer backups.” 

The project’s success in large part is due to the information developed and published in previous WERF-funded projects. Those projects used included: 

  • Reducing Peak Rainfall-Derived Infiltration/Inflow Rates — Case Studies and Protocol, 99-WWF-8
  • Methods for Cost-Effective Rehabilitation of Private Lateral Sewers, 02-CTS-5
  • Legal and Funding Issues During Private Lateral Rehabilitation, 02-CTS-5d
  • Documenting the Effectiveness of Greencastle, Ind., Private Property Inflow and Infiltration Policy, U3R06 

These WERF-funded projects helped to lay the groundwork for the SPU infiltration reduction project. 

Walter Graf, program director for infrastructure management at WERF, added, “Many jurisdictions have experience with pipes bursting, CIPP lining, joint grouting, or open trench replacement. But almost no one has experience with flood grouting. This is a great example of asset management practice where the business case evaluation selects an innovative technology and the post-project analysis validates the original decision. This project yielded results that others can use and build upon to develop their own infiltration reduction programs.” 

This is Brown and Caldwell’s second WERF award for innovation. The company also was recognized for its collaborative work on DC Water’s Biosolids Program, which won the inaugural WERF award in 2011. 

The Award for Excellence in Innovation recognizes organizations that have made improvements to wastewater and stormwater collection, storage or treatment operations, facilities, or processes by applying WERF research. A team of WERF volunteers selected the recipients from a field of well-qualified organizations. 


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