THE COLLECTION SYSTEM
The collection system operators provide service to 30,072 customers within the City limits of Paso Robles. The collection system also conveys an average of 6 million gallons per month from the Templeton Community Service District.
The average daily flow from the collection system to the Wastewater Treatment Plant is 2.9 million gallons per day (learn more about the Wastewater Treatment Plant).
Collection System Operators
Currently the City has 5 Collection System Maintenance Operators ranging in CWEA (California Water Environment Association) Grade I to Grade II. Operators work in teams of two on each truck with one being the Lift Station Operator. Operators take care of the entire system cleaning, repairing, videoing, and doing Underground Service Alerts (USA’s) for construction projects. They are responsible for maintaining:
- approximately 136 miles of
(both force mains and gravity mains)
- 14 Lift Stations
- approximately 2900 Manholes
The operators work five days per week with stand-by operator covering the week-ends.
Sewer System Management Plan
To facilitate proper management of the collection system staff must meet the requirements of the Sewer System Management Plan (SSMP). The SSMP is governed by the Regional Water Quality Control Board, and the objective of the plan is to reduce impacts to the State’s water bodies and to protect public health by reducing sanitary system overflows (SSO).
Line Descriptions and Cleaning
Lines in the City range from 4 inches to 48 inches in size. There are three types of transportation lines in the sewer collection system:
- Force mains- lines under pressure from a pump
- Gravity mains- lines that transmit waste stream by gravity or down hill
- Laterals- lines that connect homes or businesses to the mains
Staff also maintains two river crossings (pipe bridges), which are the large lines at the North and South ends of town crossing the Salinas River.
Staff’s goal is to clean the entire collection system every three years. Each month staff cleans HMA’s (high maintenance areas). These are problem areas do to excessive grease build up, flat lines, or roots clogging the lines, most are in the west side or the older sections of town.
The operators utilize several different types of equipment to perform line cleaning. The combination sewer cleaning truck, or Vacon, is used for the cleaning and vacuuming of lines and manholes.
The Jetter truck is used for cleaning lines with a high pressure water stream. The Jetter is also used in conjunction with the vapo-rooting machine which distributes a chemical and foaming agent into the lines to kill or control the roots in the system.
The easement cleaner is a small version of the Jetter truck and used for getting into tight areas where the big trucks cannot access.
The City operates a program to replace a certain number of manholes each year. Those include manholes that have settled, been damaged or where improperly constructed, which can be a problem with traffic and safety. They are routinely checked to make sure they are properly seated, so they won’t rattle or dislodge becoming a safety issue.
Staff also uses the Vacon to clean problem area manholes, which collect grit or paper that could lead to a potential spill. The City also uses locking type manhole lids in problem areas where vandalism occurs.
There are 14 Lift Stations within the City limits of Paso Robles. A Lift Station pumps or lifts the waste stream from low lying areas to higher lying areas, so gravity can carry the flow to the treatment plant. Some areas must be pumped because the gravity areas are not possible.
The Lift Station Operator checks each station daily and records run time on pumps for flow calculations. The operator also performs maintenance procedures and general house keeping at each station. They also check backup generators for readiness in case of power outages. For stations without built-in generators staff has portable generators which can be set up to operate the pump station.
All of the stations are on a SCADA tracking and alarm system. Computers monitor wet well levels and pump operation. If a pump fails an alarm is sent for the operator to respond and fix the problem. The system also keeps historical data to be used for reporting purposes.
Collection System Pipeline Inspection Van
The latest addition to the fleet is our Video Van. This is a vital piece of equipment for the collection system operator. It is the eyes of the system. Cameras are used to inspect the inside of the collection system mains. It identifies proper cleaning, problem areas that need to be repaired, infestation of roots and the location of laterals for construction purposes.
The onboard computer system records information on video or DVD. It tracks the footage between manholes and the location of laterals for input on the GIS mapping system. It keeps track of system cleaning and maintenance and produces work orders for system maintenance.
Videoing of the system is also a requirement of the SSMP.
The citizens of the City of Paso Robles are a vital part of our staff for collections; they are the eyes and ears of the system. When a problem arises, such as vandalism or sewer system overflows and citizens calls in to report an event, this helps cut down on the response time and helps eliminate discharge to our local waterways. Significant fines are imposed by the Regional Water Quality Control Board if discharges occur, so your help is needed and greatly appreciated.