How do you audit a sewer system? While it sounds like the run-up to a joke, it's anything but that to us - in fact, it was one of the most important things we accomplished in 2018.
When EOCWD acquired 175 miles of sewer in 2016, the State of California required us to do two things: 1) prepare and implement a Sewer System Management Plan (SSMP) and, 2) eliminate preventable sewer overflows. Every two years we are required to audit how successful we were at both of those requirements.
During a 12-week process in late 2018, EOCWD staff worked with an expert consultant on the audit. The entire 573 page Sewer System Management Plan was reviewed in detail, along with gigabits of electronic records.
The result? Over 125 revisions to the SSMP detailing changes to the way we train our staff, improvements in how we respond to emergencies, corrections to errors in documentation and clarifications that were needed to make procedures more clear. Over the past two years we've had four sewer spills, not the record we were looking for. By way of explanation, one of the spills occurred within days of our taking over the sewers and one was caused by a contractor dumping concrete and asphalt in the sewer and blocking it. The other two sewer spills were caused by roots and grease, and we're working hard to get those causes under control. Our goal is zero spills each year, and we won't be successful until we achieve that.
The audit results and the changes that were identified were reviewed with the Board; the Board approved the revised SSMP at their January 17th Meeting; implementation of the changes started on January 18th. The changes are memorialized in the revised SSMP, Volumes I and II - you can access these here.
Our customers expect that we live up to our motto: Hometown Service. Fiscal Discipline. Direct Accountability. The SSMP audit is one of the ways we are accountable for our work, and while we know that an almost 600-page document can sound mind numbing, it is a one-stop shop for how we will run our system and ensure that:
"Your #2 will always be our #1"