The sanitary sewer overflow response procedure presents a strategy for the Authority to mobilize labor, materials, tools and equipment to correct or repair any condition which may cause or contribute to an unpermitted discharge from a publicly owned sanitary system. A wide range of potential system failures is considered by the plan. Being prepared to respond to system failures could lessen the effect of overflows to surface waters, land, or buildings.
System employees or the public may detect an overflow. The Authority is primarily responsible for receiving phone calls from the public notifying the Authority of possible overflows from the wastewater conveyance and system. The Authority is then responsible for forwarding the possible overflow information to the appropriate party within the Authority. The emergency response shall be available 24 hours per day, 365 days of the year.
The person at the Authority receiving the call from the public will obtain all relevant information available regarding the possible overflow, including:
Pump station failures are monitored and received by the Authority. The operator on duty shall convey all information regarding alarms to the Authority to initiate the investigation. There are three pump stations within the sewer system operated by the Authority and two pump stations within the sewer system operated by private developers.
Sanitary sewer overflows detected by any personnel in the course of their normal duties shall be reported to the Authority. Dispatched personnel should record all relevant overflow information and report back information to the Authority. The Authority shall dispatch additional response crews, equipment or contracted services as necessary.
A response crew leader shall be appointed every time a response crew is called out to confirm the overflow. It is the responsibility of the appropriate response crew leader, Authority personnel or the response crew to gather all spill response data and communicate this data back to the Authority as soon as possible. Until verified, the report of a possible spill will be referred to as a "sewer inspection" (SI), not a "sanitary sewer overflow" (SSO).
A sewer inspection or sanitary sewer overflow report should be completed by the Maintenance Division of the Authority within 24 hours of the responding crew's confirmation of an overflow. The Authority is responsible for reviewing, updating, signing, and submitting the final sewer inspection or overflow report form to the proper agency, including but not limited to the ACHD (and/or DEP).
Failure of any element within the Authority-owned and -operated wastewater conveyance system that threatens to cause or causes a sanitary sewage overflow will trigger a response to isolate and correct the problem. Crews and equipment shall be available to respond to any SI/SSO locations. Crews will be dispatched to any site of a reported SSO as soon as possible.
Upon receipt of a report of a sewage overflow, response crew members shall proceed to the Authority maintenance facility where they will gather all necessary equipment and resources before proceeding to the site of the SI/SSO. Delays or conflicts in assignments and issues regarding equipment and resources should be reported to the Authority supervisor for resolution.
The response crew leader should report his/her findings, including possible damage to the public system and whether assessable to a private party, to the Authority supervisor. If the Authority has not received findings from the response crew leader within an appropriate time frame, then the Authority should contact the response crew leader to determine the status of the investigation.
Additional resources. Requests for additional personnel, material, supplies, and equipment from response crews shall be received by the response crew leader and conveyed to the Authority.
Preliminary assessment of damage to private and public property. The response crews should use discretion in assisting property owners/occupants who are affected by an SSO. Crews should be aware that the Authority could face increased liability for any further damages inflicted to private property during such assistance. Appropriate photographs and video footage, if possible, should be taken of the area of the SSO and impacted area, allowing for thorough documentation of the nature and extent of the impact. Photographs or videotapes are to be forwarded to the Authority for filing with the inspection/overflow report.
Coordination with hazardous materials response.
Upon arrival at the scene of an SSO, should a suspicious substance (e.g., oil sheen, foamy residue) be found on the ground surface, or should a suspicious odor (e.g., gasoline) not common to the sewer system be detected, the response crew leader should contact the Authority for guidance before taking further action.
The Authority will alert the local fire department, if necessary. The response crew leader shall await the arrival of the local fire department.
After arrival of the local fire department, response crew members will take direction from the commanding officer of the local fire department. Response crew members may proceed with containment, cleanup and corrective activities only when the commanding officer determines it is safe and appropriate for the response crew members to do so. Containment, cleanup, and corrective activities shall be performed in accordance with the SSORP.
Response crew members should remember that vehicle engines, portable pumps, or open flames (e.g., cigarette lighters) can provide the ignition for an explosion or fire should flammable vapors or fluids be present at the site. Response crew members should maintain a safe distance and observe caution until and after assistance arrives.
The appropriate Authority employee should conduct a follow-up visit to the site of the overflow, if possible, to ensure the provisions of the SSORP and other directives were properly followed.
The response crew leader is responsible for confirming that the SI/SSO report was provided to the Authority.
Blocked sewers, pipe failures, or mechanical malfunctions can cause sanitary sewage overflows. Other natural and man-made disturbances are also possible causes of sanitary sewer overflows. This section describes specific actions to be performed by the response crews during an SSO. Circumstances may arise when the Authority could benefit from the support of private-sector construction assistance.
The objectives of these actions are to:
Determine the apparent cause of the overflow, for example, whether the cause lies in the publicly owned sewer or a private lateral, and assign it to the appropriate party;
Protect public health, the environment, and property by minimizing SSO impacts as soon as possible;
Establish perimeters with appropriate barricades and control zones, with vehicles or natural topography (e.g., hills, berms);
Communicate preliminary overflow information and potential impacts to the regulatory agency as soon as practical; and
Contain the SSO to the maximum extent possible, including preventing the discharge of sanitary sewage into surface waters.
Responsibilities of response crew upon arrival.
It is the responsibility of the first personnel who arrive at the site of a sanitary sewer overflow to protect the health and safety of the public by mitigating the impact of the overflow to the extent possible. Should the overflow not be the responsibility of the Authority, but there is imminent danger to public health, public or private property, or to the waters of the United States, then prudent action should be taken until the responsible party assumes control and provides remedial actions.
Upon arrival at an SSO the response crew should do the following:
Determine the cause of the sanitary sewer overflow.
If necessary, identify and request assistance or additional resources to correct the overflow or to determine its cause.
Determine if private property is impacted. If it is, the Authority will inform the ACHD (or DEP if appropriate) by faxing the standardized reporting form to the ACHD administrative consent order to:
Allegheny County Health Department
Chief of Public Drinking Water and Waste Management
24-hour phone number: 412-687-2243
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
24-hour phone number: 412-442-4000
Fax: 412-442-4194 or 412-442-4303
Appropriate personnel, materials, supplies, and/or equipment which can be dispatched to minimize the impact of the overflow.
Initial measures for containment. The response crew should initiate measures to contain the SSO, thereby minimizing the impact to public health or the environment.
Additional measures under potentially prolonged overflow conditions. In the event of a prolonged sewer line blockage or a sewer line collapse, a determination should be made to set up a portable bypass pumping operation around the obstruction.
Cleanup. Sewer overflow sites are to be promptly cleaned to the highest degree possible after an overflow. No readily identifiable residue is to remain in the area of the SSO.
The SSO site is to be secured to prevent access to the site by the public until the site has been thoroughly cleaned.
Where practical, the area is to be thoroughly flushed and cleaned of any sewage or wash-down water. Solids and debris are to be transported for proper disposal.
Where appropriate, the overflow site is to be disinfected and ponds formed by the SSO will be pumped dry and the residue will be disposed of properly.
An overflow report shall be completed by the response personnel, who shall promptly notify the Office Administrator for the Authority when the overflow is eliminated.
To properly complete an overflow report, response personnel shall:
Determine if the SSO may have impacted the surface waters.
Characterize the SSO by evaluating the following:
Sewage overflows to the stormwater system;
Preplanned or emergency maintenance jobs involving bypass pumping;
Overflows where observation or on-site evidence clearly indicates all sanitary sewage was retained on land and did not reach surface water and where cleanup occurs; and
Any other pertinent information relating to each individual SSO.
Estimate the volume of the sanitary sewer overflow when rate of overflow is known by
Multiplying the duration of the overflow by the overflow rate.
Photograph the event.
Describe any damage to the exterior areas of public/private property.