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Community Update for November 9, 2012

Despite a few recent Indian summer days in the Bay Area, cooler, wetter weather is on its way.While the rainy season can bring its own challenges, the good news is that it helps mitigate odor and H2S by flushing the collection (sewer) system.Dry weather can cause a build-up of organic material in the collection system which decomposes and produces H2S and odors. Wet weather on the other hand helps flush the system and reduces those effects.

At the Richmond wastewater treatment plant, we plan and prepare for this change in weather. We thought it would be helpful to share what goes in to "winterizing" the plant and preparing for increased pressure on our sewer collection systems with storm water flows.

In order to prepare the wastewater system for winter's wetter weather, it's important to understand how this impacts our systems.When it rains, the flow into the plant can increase from 7 to 40 million gallons a day!High volumes of rain or storm water can also strain the collection system.There are constrictions within the sanitary collection system where blockages can occur resulting in overflows into the streets and sometimes into homes.For this reason, Veolia takes various steps to proactively prepare for the impact on Richmond's wastewater treatment systems.

First, Veolia utilizes checklists to ensure the proper steps are taken so the treatment plant and collection system are in optimum condition to operate under wet weather conditions.Those steps include keeping additional chemical inventory on hand, increasing the frequency of checks and maintenance to critical processes and equipment, increasing remote monitoring of the facility as well as adjusting staff schedules to meet weather dependent operational needs.

The Veolia team keeps a close eye on the weather and prepares for heavy rain events with proactive mitigation efforts around high-impact areas.Crew members identify "hot spots" where there is a higher risk for weather-related issues and perform preventive measures such as flushing the lines and cleaning out debris that can cause blockages and poor draining.While some operational functions are done through automation, the plant extends staffing to ensure appropriate response to weather-related problems at the plant and in the community.

There are things that you, as a resident, can do to help support the efforts of your treatment plant team:
  • Before rain events, rake leaves out of your gutters and keep the areas around your home where rainwater drains free of debris
  • Report areas where you see overflows - or the potential for overflows - to the treatment plant (510/412-2001)
  • If you are doing work on private sewer laterals, put in a backflow preventer (you can learn more about this at
Veolia's professional expertise and commitment to preparedness, combined with the cooperative efforts of Richmond residents, can carry us smoothly through the wet weather months ahead.Let us know if you have questions and contact us if see any problem areas out in your community.