Chemical Root Control Can Aid in Meeting CMOM Challenge

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently developing an audit program that will evaluate all aspects of collection system capacity, management, operation, and maintenance (CMOM).

Sep 1st, 2003
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently developing an audit program that will evaluate all aspects of collection system capacity, management, operation, and maintenance (CMOM).

CMOM is intended to be a program that encourages a proactive approach to sewer maintenance rather than the traditional reactive regulation that simply punishes cities and sewer districts for their overflows.

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This means that maintaining pipe-flow capacity in addition to eliminating sewer overflows is more important than ever.

The majority of overflows that occur in the collection systems are due to insufficient/restricted flow capacity or line blockage due to obstruction, such as roots.

The ability to maintain full pipe capacity and prevent Sanitary Sewer Overflow's (SSO) or Combined Sewer Overflow's (CSO) are essential to demonstrating a preventative maintenance program in accordance with a CMOM program.

Utilizing a chemical root control program can be a critical element in achieving the CMOM standards.

The City of South Bend, IN, has developed a chemical root control program, using the product RootX, as part of a CMOM program.

By administering the product on a routine schedule, preventative action is achieved.

Case Study

The City of South Bend is the fifth largest city in Indiana with a population of approximately 107,000 (2000 census).

The city's sewer service area consists of an estimated 14,000 acres of land and takes about 3 to 3 1/2 years to clean.

This area is divided into four quadrants. Each quadrant is subdivided into about 15 squares. A sewer crew, equipped with a combination jetter/rodder, is assigned to each quadrant to clean and repair all catch basins in the quadrant.

The city conducts video inspections of its sewer lines regularly to detect problem areas. Once an area has been identified, the Bureau of Sewers has an inspection and maintenance crew sent out to remove any type of debris that may cause a pipe flow capacity problem in the future.

Routine cleanings are scheduled so that the entire city can be cleaned within that 3 to 3 1/2 year time frame.

The purpose of implementing a CMOM program for the City of South Bend was to meet the requirements of the EPA's proposed rule intended to address the problems associated with sanitary sewer overflows. South Bend has designed its CMOM program to enable staff to become proactive rather than reactive in the prevention of SSO's.

When the CMOM program was put in place in 1996, the City of South Bend Division of Environmental Services along with its sewer maintenance facility showed immediate results.

The city was able to "kill two birds with one stone" in that management could now send smaller crews to routine cleaning sights.

Using RootX made the root control program more cost effective than contracting out the work to an outside vendor. There has also been a marked reduction of visits and fewer service calls to problem areas within the city.

South Bend has been using RootX foaming root control for over seven years to prevention blockages caused by root intrusion. An attractive feature of the product is that it can be applied without the use of specialized equipment.

The city did not have to purchase new equipment to apply the product and were able to assign fewer crew workers to root-cleaning sites.

City staff conduct the cleaning work themselves, which has resulted in better documentation and record keeping of problem areas.

The City of South Bend videotapes its sewer lines and has set up monitoring sites to document success of the root control program.

How it Works

RootX is one of a new generation of chemical root control products. It is designed to foam inside the sewer line, reaching the top of the pipe where 90% of root intrusions occur.

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The chemical formulation is registered with the EPA as a general use herbicide for use in storm and sanitary sewer lines. By choosing a general-use herbicide, South Bend eliminates the licensing and restrictive handling requirements associated with earlier generations of root control chemical, classified as restricted-use herbicides.

The RootX formulation is non-systemic. This means that it will only kill roots that it can physically contact. Therefore, the roots in the pipe are killed while protecting the above ground vegetation.

In order to prevent roots from re-growing immediately into the pipe, the product includes a root growth inhibitor.

The inhibitor will protect the line from re-growth for two to three years. This is achieved via a chemical residue that is left behind in cracks and joints as the foam evaporates.

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