Working for Clean Water
     An Information Program for Advisory Groups
Wastewater Facilities
     Operation and
     What is Operation and Management (O&M)?

          What does O&M cost?

      Who pays for the O&M of sewage plants?

 What are the federal O&M requirements for sewage plants?

     What are the major O&M problem areas?
           Citizen Handbook

This program was prepared by
The Pennsylvania State University
Institute of State & Regional
Middletown, PA 17057

Dr. Charles A. Cole
  Project Director
Dr. E. Drannon Buskirk, Jr.
  Project Co-Director
Prof. Lorna Chr. Stoltzfiis

This unit was prepared by
David A. Long

Advisory Team for the Project
David Elkinton, State of West
Steve Frishman, private citizen
Michele Frome, private citizen
John Hammond, private citizen
Joan Jurancich, State of California
Richard Hetherington, EPA
  Region 10
Rosemary Henderson, EPA
  Region 6
George HoesseL, EPA Region 3
George Neiss, EPA Region 5
Ray Pfortner, EPA Region 2
Paul Pinault, EPA Region 1
Earlene Wilson, EPA Region 7
Dan BurrowB, EPA Head
Ben Gryctko, EPA Headquarters
Robert Hardaker, EPA
Charles Kauffinan, EPA
Steve Maier, EPA Headquarters

EPA Project Officer
Barry H. Jordan
Office of Water Programs

Ann Kirsch, Jan Russ, Tess

Student Assistants:
Fran Costanzi, Kathy DeBatt,
Michael Lapano, Mike Moulds,
Terry Switzer

Charles Speers

Graphics support was provided by
the Office of Public Awareness,
U.S. Environmental Protection

Photographs were provided by
USDA - Soil Conservation Service
and Zimpro, Inc.

Waste water Facilities
Operation and  Management
O & M—What is It?

O & M traditionally has meant "operation
and maintenance" to people associated
with water quality management and
facility planning. A more appropriate
meaning for O & M is "Operation and
Management". Most of us are familiar with
the need for O & M in daily living
activities, including:
• Operating and managing a household
with budgeting
• Operating and maintaining appliances
and automobiles
• Painting and  making repairs necessary
to protect investments in physical
structures, such as a house
• Engaging in health care activities such
as annual medical and dental checkups.
All of these activities require proper
management to  achieve our goals in family
living. Likewise, in order to achieve our
goals in water quality management, we
must make certain that O & M
considerations at wastewater treatment
facilities receive our earliest attention in
the planning process.

The advisory group can assure that
these matters receive the attention they
deserve. The most perfectly designed
 system will not work if it is not
 What Does O & M Cost?

 Of course operation and management costs
 money, but in the long run it is a wise
 investment. Good O&M protects
 investments in expensive treatment plant
 equipment and structures.
Why are these fish dying or already dead?
Just a few scant months ago the area was
ideal for sport fishing. Who or what was

Yes, these fish were killed by the local
municipal wastewater treatment plant.

The investigator's record reported . . .
"Equipment malfunction." What really

That's right. Poor operation and
management of the treatment plant was
the real killer, by allowing the discharge
of a toxic effluent into waters where
fishing formerly had been good. The cost to
the community was a $15,000 fine plus the
value of the fish . . . not to mention a
degraded environment.

A similar situation occurred at a treatment
plant that was hopelessly overloaded. It
required an unbudgeted emergency
expenditure of $35,000 to make corrections
to equipment. What was the real cause of
failure? This time city officials were
blamed. They failed to enforce an existing
sewer use ordinance.

By contrast, consider a well-run plant that
removes 85 to 90 percent of suspended
solids from wastewater, while undergoing a
25 percent overload at the same time! This
accomplishment is achieved by
well-trained, professional operators. Local
officials and citizens must realize that the
evidence at hand proves that proper
operation and management of a wastewater
treatment facility are not extra cost items.
Rather, they more than pay their own way!
We must never lose sight of the fact that
properly trained professional  wastewater
treatment operators  and technicians are
key components in any water pollution
control system!

Several years ago, the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) engaged an
independent business consulting firm  to
conduct a detailed survey of the
measurable effects of operator training.
Summing up the findings of the report, one
of the authors made  these observations:
• While the report is limited in scope, it
clearly establishes the salutary effect  of
operator training on plant performance
• The public return  on investment in this
training is a  little short of astounding. As
            Local Expenditures for
       Wastewater Collection and Treatment
calculated for Texas plants, for every dollar
invested in training, the public has received
$91 in measurable return.

The survey acknowledges that training
probably increases the cost of operations
and routine maintenance which are funded
out of local funds. Therefore, by itself,
training may not be an appealing
investment to local decision  makers.
However, in light of the heavy fines for
substandard, noncompliant plant operation,
training which  moves a plant into
compliance will provide a sound

The survey found,  also, that the benefits of
training were clearly obvious in
maintaining consistently high performance
at already  successful wastewater treatment
plants, as well  as improving performance
at the less  successful, or substandard
plants. At  19 Texas facilities, the removal
of BOD and suspended solids improved in a
range of 112 percent to 334 percent as a
result of operator training.

It rapidly is becoming apparent to
municipal, state, and other officials
responsible for  water pollution control that
an improvement in operator efficiency will
have one major, desirable effect - an
upgrading  and  improvement in the overall
quality of our waterways.

A plant properly operated and  managed
will pay off in prolonging the life of the
facility, which should provide tremendous
savings to the community.
Who Pays for O & M?

Who pays for O&M?

We do! Or at least the community does.

Congress has mandated that it is the local
government's responsibility, not the federal
government's, to keep a waste treatment
facility operating. Once constructed, the
facility belongs to the municipality. The
EPA then has only a regulatory role
through an effluent discharge permit

The costs of operating treatment plants are
increasing rapidly as a result of higher
treatment requirements and increased
costs for energy and chemicals. The
community is responsible for these
operation and management costs.

O & M and the Law

The Federal Water Pollution Control Act of
1972 (PL 92-500) as amended by the Clean
Water Act of 1977 (PL 95-217) addresses
O & M in several sections.

The awarding of a construction grant, as
provided by Section 204, is conditioned
upon the grantee's  assurance that the new
plant will be operated and maintained
properly. Among the steps required under
this Section are:

• Preparing a complete plan of operation,
approved by the state water pollution
control agency, which lays out a detailed
schedule for timely action on adequate
staffing, training, and budgeting to assure
effective start up and continued operation
of the facility
« Establishing a user charge system to
provide adequate funding for annual
O & M costs, including replacement.

The implementing regulations for the
construction grants program contain
requirements designed to assure proper
O & M of treatment facilities constructed
with grant funds.

Additionally, Section 210 of the Act
requires that an annual survey be made
and reported to Congress on the actual
performance of federally-funded plants.
These surveys indicate that one third of
the plants inspected appear not to be
meeting their design criteria for removal of
BOD and suspended solids. Also the
effluent from approximately one half of
both new and existing treatment plants
presently are not meeting satisfactory
levels of secondary treatment.

At present, there is no requirement for an
independent review of the operation and
management elements of facility plans.
However, EPA is considering such a "third
party" review prior to facility plan
approval. Additionally, the EPA has
proposed that Step 1 (facility planning)
plans be reviewed to determine whether or
not a proposed new facility is really
needed, or whether the existing facility or
a modified  version of it will accomplish the
same water quality management
O & M Considerations in

Proper planning for water quality
management must address 0 & M very
early on. Everyone must recognize that the
total burden of paying the continuing costs
of O & M rests solely on the residents to be
served by the plant. Early public
involvement in facility planning can help to
get this point across. Also, through effective
public involvement, more citizens may come
to view their wastewater treatment facilities
as a resource and an asset to the
community. Community pride in a facility
can lead to proper O & M.

The advisory group can see to it that
the following are addressed in the
planning process:
• Survey and inventory of O & M
problems in existing plants in the area
• Development of action plans and
institutional arrangements to solve
identified problems
• Development of good O & M plans
for  the new facility
• Study of ways to ensure continued
attention to  O & M
• Integration of small systems
management with that of central

o Contracts 'with firms which specialize
in the operation of wastcwater facilities
to manage the local plant.
Knowledge of local conditions can be
very helpful.
Indicators of Good O & M
Many aspects of sewage treatment plant
O & M are too technical for an untrained
person to understand or even be aware of.
However, there are some general indicators
of good O & M practices which are
apparent even to untrained observers.

The advisory group cam form am initial
impression of existing O & M practices
to help guide the evaluation of O & M.
Visit plants as a start!
On these visits persons can assess the
attractiveness of the general environment,
work conditions, and the appearance of
surface waters below the plant discharge
Major O & M Challenges
The National Operational and
Maintenance Cause-and-Effect Survey
conducted by EPA shows that good
performance of wastewater treatment
plants is possible. The survey evaluated
details on the system and unit process
performances, operation and maintenance
practices, and administrative procedures of
O & M at existing treatment plants.

The following sections discuss some of the
major factors found to cause poor plant
 Process Control Actions
 Process control refers to those actions
 taken by an operator to adjust a treatment
 process in order to improve its efficiency. It
 is the leading cause of poor performance at
 a number of plants. This problem occurs

 o A trained operator, in a well-designed
 plant, does not operate the plant as
 efficiently as possible

 o The operator makes incorrect control
 adjustments or incorrect control test

 o Poorly designed or inadequate parts of
 the treatment process are continued,
 instead of using different operations or
 modifying the plant for improved

 The lack of testing and control often was
 caused by the failure of operators to apply
 learned techniques. Motivation by
 wastewater treatment plant supervisors is
 the key.
Process Control Testing Procedures

Inadequate process control testing means
that information needed for process
monitoring and operation control either is
wrong or not available. This deficiency
leads to poor decisions. In many cases,
important measurements which must be
used to operate processes properly were not
even made. Good laboratories, personnel,
and sampling equipment are necessary to
gather adequate data on which to make
operational decisions.
   Plant Performance

   ®  What kind of performance record
   does the existing plant have?
   ©  Is the plant achieving or exceeding
   the standards set by the design
   o  Is the plant being operated in the
   most energy efficient manner?
   Process Control Monitoring

   o  Does the plant have its own
   o  What kind of sampling and testing
   program exists?
   9  The NPDES permit system requires
   frequent self-testing and reporting;
   how is this requirement being met?
   ©  What sources and types of wastes
   are treated by the plant?
   ®  Does runoff from rain and snow
   melt leak into sewers?

 Infiltration/Inflow (I/I) refers to water
 which enters the sewers as a result of
 leakage of groundwater (infiltration) or
 rainwater (inflow) into the sewers. I/I was
 a major problem in a majority of the
 treatment plants included in the survey.
 The problem exists in the sewer collection
 system, but its effect on treatment plant
 operations cannot be ignored. Location of
 I/I sources and repair of the leaks is
 Inadequate Understanding
 of Wastewater Treatmemt
 This problem is defined as a lack of
 knowledge by the operational staff. A
 knowledge of wastewater treatment is
 needed if an operator is to do more than
 just keep the equipment operating.
 Education and training is the key to
 efficient operations.

 The advisory group shouild erasure that
 needed education and trainimg will be
 provided at the proper time.
   Education and Training

   • How large is the plant's staff?
   • Does the plant have a full-time
   • Who actually hires plant personnel?
   • What qualifications are required?
   • Are operators certified by the state?
   • How are employees trained for
   their jobs?
   • Are opportunities for continuing
   training provided?
   • What are the differences in staff
   salaries and skills needed by
   treatment  plants?
Technical Guidance
In far too many instances, improper
technical guidance has been provided to
plant operational staffs from
"authoritative" sources such as design
engineers, state and federal regulatory
agency personnel, equipment suppliers,
and operator training staff. This factor
may well be one of the most difficult to
 overcome because of the lack of people
 experienced in plant O & M. The
 community must support the plants by
 hiring persons trained to interpret data and
 operate the equipment. Inadequately trained
 personnel cannot be expected to perform
 high quality tasks.  Good people demand
 competitive salaries.
 Ease of Comtrol amid Adaptability
 Plants vary as to the use of process control
 and ability to adapt to changing conditions.
 These factors are related to the plant
 design. They are extremely important
 considerations because changes in
 wastewater flows and waste characteristics
 require that changes be made in operation
 of the treatment units. Facility planning
 must take into account the need for varying
 operation. Plans for handling toxic material
 spills and other emergencies also must be
Other Causes
Other causes of poor O & M performance
include ineffective O & M instruction
manuals, unsatisfactory maintenance
programs, inadequate budgeting support
for O & M, and improper facilities design
and construction.

It is important to note that in all of the
plants included in the cause-and-effect
survey, a combination of factors always
limited performance. No single cause of
poor performance at any one facility was
ever observed. There is a relationship
between  the reasons for poor performance
and adjustments needed to improve O & M.
Most  existing programs for correcting poor
performance focus  on single problems only.
Therefore, a new approach which addresses
all problems at a particular facility is
needed. This approach should be spelled
out early in the facility planning process so
that appropriate action can be taken at
each step along the way.

All aspects of facility planning should be
reviewed for O & M impacts. For example,
multiple  use programs can be of
tremendous benefit to O & M. Besides
stimulating better  housekeeping and
efficient operations, multiple use
involvement builds a support base for
O & M budgets.

The performance of wastewater treatment
systems often may be improved simply and
inexpensively by:

o Upgrading operation and maintenance

o Giving more attention to management
and administrative requirements
o Making low cost corrections of design
deficiencies where they exist.
 Plans and Procedures

 o What type of maintenance system is in
 use? Is it a preventive system, or does it
 merely respond to breakdowns?

 o What type of maintenance system is in
 use? Is it a preventive system, or does it
 merely respond to breakdowns?
 o Is there an operation and
 maintenance manual written
 especially for the existing plant? Do
 the operators use it? Will there be one
 for the new plant?
 o Who will set the yearly operation
 and  maintenance budget for  the
 plant? Is the money collected for
 water service and sewer use  charges
 to be set aside to finance water
 quality activities, or will it be placed
 in the community's treasury  for
 general use?
   Is there an emergency plan for
 spills of toxic materials, floods, loss of
 power, etc.?
  Better operation and management (O & M)
  means cleaner water, but attention to
  O & M pays off even more. It saves money,
  too! It protects the huge investment that a
  community makes when it builds a
  wastewater treatment plant by helping to
  get the most out of it.

  Many existing wastewater treatment
  plants do not meet their design and permit
  requirements. EPA surveys show that the
  major problems with these plants were
  caused by O & M failures.  The most
  common problems are:

 o Improper operation by inadequately
  trained operators

 o Inadequate laboratory testing

 o Inadequate general maintenance

 o Temporary mechanical breakdowns.

 Unless a treatment plant is overloaded
 with more wastewater or stronger wastes
 than it is designed  to handle, most
 problems can be solved by improving
 O & M performance.

 Municipal officials and the public have
 three responsibilities for good operation and
 management of the treatment plant:
 o Setting up a management system to
 establish proper control of collection and
 treatment systems

 o Providing well qualified,  well trained,
 properly certified, and adequately
 compensated people  at all levels to operate
 the system properly

 o Allotting sufficient funding to do the job.
 Mainly, good O & M boils down to
 recognition by the owners of the value of a
 good manager and good O & M personnel.
 They must recognize that these people are
 the most important  link in good facilities

The advisory  group must  see that these
matters are addressed im the plarammg
off the facility.

 Case Study

 Contract Management of O & M

 Wausau,  Wisconsin
 Adapted from "The Wausau Connection: O & M Contract Help* I.
 Sewer Moratorium.." Reactor. Zimpro, Inc., February 1979. p. 13.
 A private operations and maintenance contract has helped
 Wausau, Wisconsin, run off many consecutive months of
 effluent permit compliance, and resume sewer connections
 to newly annexed areas.

 Repeated effluent violations during 1976 and 1977 had
 brought legal action against the city by the Wisconsin
 Department of Natural Resources. The Department of
 Natural Resources also had placed a moratorium on new
 connections to the Wausau sanitary sewer system,
 delaying the city's plans to expand residential and
 industrial development. Some $230,000 worth of sanitary
 sewer work had been frozen.

 In April, 1978, Wausau signed a one-year, renewable
 supervisory 0 & M contract with a private contractor.
 Within 90 days, the plant began meeting its discharge
 permit limits of 30 milligrams per liter suspended solids
 and BOD. By December, the plant had run off six
 consecutive months of effluent compliance. As 1979 began,
 the Department of Natural Resources and the city of
 Wausau had settled the law suit and the sewer connection
 moratorium had been lifted.
Here's How They Did It
"We were having real problems at the plant," said
Wausau Mayor John Kannenberg. "We've had to put
money into plant improvements, but we're very pleased
with the results of the private management contract. It's
produced results." Achievements accomplished during this
tenure include:
       • The contract enabled existing plant operators to retain
       their positions. The contractor provided a plant manager,
       chief operator, and operator, and laboratory technician.

       • A full plant preventive maintenance plan was
       instituted, and a card system was set up for inventory and
       spare parts.

       • Training programs in plant operations, maintenance,
       and safety were undertaken.

       • A system of monthly reports to the utility and
       regulatory agencies was initiated, and plant progress was
       reported regularly to the local media.

       • Major items of equipment in need of repair or
       replacement were identified and reported.

       • Defective sludge digesters were emptied, cleaned, and
       repaired. Major repair  work on sewage influent pumps,
       comminutor, and grit removal equipment was completed.

       • Primary and secondary clarifiers, and chlorine contact
       chambers were emptied and cleaned.

       • Plant hiring procedures were examined. Three
       additional wastewater  operator positions were defined,
       negotiated through the municipal personnel structure and
       local union, and eventually filled.

       • A program of monitoring discharge from septic tank
       service trucks, and charging a users' fee was set up.

       • The city and its  consulting engineering firm drafted and
       began to enforce guidelines for industrial discharges into
       the sewer system.

Selected Resources
Need More
Continuing Need for Improved Operations and Maintenance of Municipal Wastewater
Treatment Plants. Report to Congress by the Comptroller General of the United States.
CED-77-46. Washington, DC: U.S. General Accounting Office, April 11, 1977. 75 pp.

         This report discusses the continuing need for improved operation and
         maintenance of municipal wastewater treatment plants constructed under
         grants awarded by the Environmental Protection Agency. Single copies may be
         ordered free of charge from Documents Handling, Box 6015, Gaithersburg,
         Maryland 20760. Specify order number CED-77-46.

Hill, William R., Regan Terry M. and Zickefoose,  Charles S. "Operation and
Maintenance of Water Pollution Control Facilities: A WPCF White Paper."  Water
Pollution Control Federation Journal. Vol. 51, no. 5. May 1979. pp. 899-906.

         This article outlines the major problem areas affecting O & M as determined by
         a committee of the Water Pollution Control Federation. The paper  also presents
         constructive recommendations for bringing O & M into compliance. There is a
         specific section which addresses the role that the owners  and the public can play
         in this endeavor. Single copies may be ordered free of charge from the Water
         Pollution Control Federation,  2626 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington,
         DC 20037.
 Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD)—
 amount of dissolved oxygen required in the
 biological breakdown of organic matter in

 Chlorine Contact Chamber—tank in which
 chlorine is added to treated wastewater for the
 purpose of disinfection.

 Comminutor—grinds up large objects in the
 raw wastewater entering a sewage treatment

 Effluent—treated or untreated wastewater
 discharged into the environment.

 Grit Removal—a stage of primary treatment
 during which sand, cinders, and small stones
 are removed from wastewater by settling out.
           Infiltration/Inflow (I/I)—leakage of ground
           and surface waters into sewers.

           Influent—the raw wastewater entering a
           sewage treatment plant or in more general
           terms, the flow entering some process unit.

           Multiple Use—utilization of wastewater
           treatment facilities for other functions in
           addition to wastewater treatment, such as for
           recreational and educational purposes.

           Primary Clarifier—sedimentation tank used
           for removing settleable solids during primary

           Sanitary Sewer—collection system which
           carries wastewater produced in homes and
           industry; a separate collection  system carries
           stormwater runoff.
Secondary Clarifier—sedimentation tank
used for removal of settleable solids and scum
created during secondary treatment.

Secondary Treatment—wastewater
processing that results in an effluent with 30
mg/L or less of BOD or suspended solids.

Sludge Digester—heated tank where
wastewater solids can decompose biologically
and the odors can be controlled.

Suspended Solids (SS)—small particles of
solid pollutants in sewage that cause cloudiness
and require special treatment to remove.

Working for Clean Water is a
program designed to help advisory
groups improve decision making in
water quality planning It aims at
helping people focus on essential
issues and questions by providing
trained instructors and materials
suitable for persons with
non-technical backgrounds. These
materials include a citizen
handbook on important principles
and considerations about topics in
water quality planning, an
audiovisual presentation, and an
instructor guide for elaborating
points, providing additional
information, and engaging in
problem-solving exercises.

This program consists of 18
informational units on various
aspects of water quality planning:

• Role of Advisory Groups

• Public Participation

• Nonpoint Source Pollution:
Agriculture, Forestry, and Mining

• Urban Stormwater Runoff

• Groundwater Contamination

• Facility Planning in the
Construction Grants Program

• Municipal Wastewater Processes:

• Municipal Wastewater Processes:

• Small Systems

• Innovative and Alternative

• Industrial Pretreatment

• Land Treatment

• Water Conservation and Reuse

• Multiple Use

• Environmental Assessment

• Cost-Effectiveness Analysis

• Wastewater Facilities Operation
and Management
The units are not designed to
make technical experts out of
citizens and local officials. Each
unit contains essential facts, key
questions, advice on how to deal
with the issues, and
clearly-written technical
backgrounds. In  short, each unit
provides the information that
citizen advisors need to better
fulfill their role.

This program is available through
public participation coordinators at
the regional offices of the United
States Environmental Protection
Agency. D
This information program was
financed with federal funds from
the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency under Cooperative
Agreement No. CT900980 01. The
information program has been
reviewed by the Environmental
Protection Agency and approved
for publication. Approval does not
signify that the contents
necessarily reflect the views and
policies of the Environmental
Protection Agency, nor does the
mention of trade names or
commercial products constitute
endorsement of recommendation
for use.O
This project is dedicated to the
memory of Susan A. Cole.
  i Financial Management