Going with the Flow: Monitoring Service Tracks Flow Across Regional System

The Johnstown Redevelopment Authority, based in Johnstown, PA, is conducting a comprehensive sewage flow monitoring program assessing the condition of the various collection systems that feed into its treatment plant, which serves all or a portion of 20 different municipalities in the region.

Flow Monitor Lifting Lid 1303ww

The Johnstown Redevelopment Authority, based in Johnstown, PA, is conducting a comprehensive sewage flow monitoring program assessing the condition of the various collection systems that feed into its treatment plant, which serves all or a portion of 20 different municipalities in the region.

The authority is responsible for the interceptor system and treatment plant, but is not responsible for the ownership, operation or maintenance of any of the municipal collection systems.

The program is overseen by the EADS Group engineering firm. Flow monitoring is provided by Data Delivery Services (DDS), a flow-monitoring service available from Hach Co. As part of the contract, the company provides flow meters, installation and setup, plus monitoring and data collection. Flow data is made available in near real-time via a secure website.

Flow Monitor Lifting Lid 1303ww
A crew prepares to check a flow monitor mounted in a manhole.

Contracting for a comprehensive flow monitoring service across all the municipalities helped provide consistency to the program, said Tom Kakabar of the EADS Group.

"This program would have been very difficult to try to do in a coordinated effort using 20 different municipalities, ultimately using 20 different types of flow meters and 20 different professionals involved in the program," Kakabar said. "This outsourcing program enabled us to bring all the necessary flow monitoring systems and sub-basins together into one comprehensive program."

The municipalities that feed the Johnstown facility are of various ages and widely varying condition, with some systems in good condition and others relying on infrastructure in excess of 100 years old. As a result, flow from the communities varies widely.

One goal of the program was to conduct the flow monitoring simultaneously across all the municipalities, providing comprehensive, real-time data. The program allows the regional authority to understand what is happening in the system, plus helps the local municipalities identify problem areas within their individual systems.

"We have the system broken into various sub-basins. We can pretty much ignore municipal boundaries and look at sub-basins as they discharge to one common interceptor system," Kakabar said. "The redevelopment authority allows each of the member communities by way of a user name and password to access the data via the internet so they can view their flows on a real time basis."

Flow Monitoring Manhole 1303ww
The Hach DDS flow monitoring service tracks flow from the 21 different municipalities served by the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority.

The program recently completed the first full year of what is expected to be a two-year program.

"We are getting some good input from the outlying communities and we are starting to see the communities using the information effectively," Kakabar said.

Currently all customers for the Redevelopment Authority pay the same rates for their sewage bills, no matter the condition of their local municipal collection system.

"Some of the communities have taken on reconstruction projects and updated their systems, and some communities have not updated their systems," Kakabar said. "The difficulty for the Redevelopment Authority is the fairness of treating equally those systems who have incurred debt and improved their systems versus those systems that have not yet taken that approach."

The flow monitoring program has helped the authority identify problem areas in the collection network.

"We are now able to break the systems down by age category and come up with very predictable results," Kakabar said. That could, at some point, translate into different rates for different municipalities served by the authority.

For more information on the flow monitoring services offered by Hach Co., visit www.hachflow.com.

More WaterWorld Issue Articles
WaterWorld Articles Archives
More in Water Utility Management