Ramping Up To Efficiently Deliver Capital Projects To Meet Bankruptcy And Regulatory Deadlines


  • S. W. Fitzgerald, M. Marsjanik - Hazen and Sawyer
  • D. White - Jefferson County Environmental Services

Jefferson County Alabama currently owns and maintains approximately 3,100 miles of gravity sewer, 176 pump stations, and 7 major WWTPs. However, before 1996, the County only owned and operated 570 miles of trunk sewers and 33 pump stations. All other assets were owned and operated by 21 municipalities. A 1996 Consent Decree required the County to take over all of these systems and to eliminate overflows. Many of these systems had not been maintained properly and were not constructed to proper standards. In subsequent years, the County spent a significant amount of money making system improvements and, with a downturn in the economy went into bankruptcy in 2011.

Despite significant reductions in overflow volumes, there are numerous problems remaining including wet weather and dry weather overflows.

The significant reduction in capital funding and the need to manage the system through the bankruptcy created a unique situation that motivated the County to take a customized Asset Management approach based on early successes and measuring outcomes to continue to improve the system and address overflows during both wet and dry weather. This approach targets the limited capital dollars to where they can be the most effective and maximizes existing data to inform prioritization. The result was the development of a detailed risk analysis and prioritization of the collection system management using powerful and robust asset management decision support tools that developed CoF and PoF scores for the entire system for capacity, structural and blockage failures. Several prioritized programs resulted including the Priority Cleaning Program, Ongoing Sewer Assessment and Rehab Program, Critical Sewer Assessment and Rehab Program, Capacity Assurance program, and the Pump Station Assessment and Rehabilitation Program.

Other key activities of the program development was the development of detailed SOPs, training and implementation of CityWorks CMMS and the development of mobile solutions to optimize the generation and implementation of work orders. The result has been a significant reduction in blockage related overflows and designs to address 70% of the known recurring overflows.

The set-up of the program and the prioritization process coincided with and assisted with the removal the County from Bankruptcy. The result was a detailed plan of spending, which included specified spending in the collection system, rate increases and debt service payments. With the County out of Bankruptcy and a prioritized program framework in place the County needed to be able to implement their CIP without the ability to hire new staff. What was needed was a robust program management plan with strict controls, key performance metrics, periodic review, and robust schedule management.

In order to ensure effective implementation of the CIP, all individual projects are added to an Oracle P6 master schedule, with each project having a standardized project life cycle, from design consultant selection to construction completion. In addition, project costs are added to the master schedule such that accurate cash flow projections can be obtained. All CIP projects are updated monthly, with corresponding cash flow projections. This process has improved accountability and predictability for the entire CIP program.

Multiple Key Performance Indicators are in place, to ensure both effective implementation of the CIP, and the collection system performance. This system promotes the goal of effectively managing projects, as well as ensuring that the right projects are selected to minimize SSOs. Monthly program reports track key performance indicators. This presentation and paper will cover the key aspects of program development, the development and implementation of robust AM tools, and the integration into the development and implementation of the CIP.

For more information, please contact the author at sfitzgerald@hazenandsawyer.com.

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