GIS Applications for Regulatory Compliance

Uzair (Sam) Shamsi


The Problem
Eighty-three (83) communities in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania are facing a unique and perhaps historical environmental compliance challenge. In 2004, these municipalities including the City of Pittsburgh signed Administrative Consent Orders (ACO) and Consent Order and Agreements (COA). ACOs are enforced by the Allegheny County Health Department for the Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) communities. COAs are enforced by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) communities. In 2007, Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN) that serves these 83 communities signed a Consent Decree with U.S. EPA. Though such consent orders and decrees are not new, the large number of communities involved definitely makes this compliance effort a unique challenge for all stakeholders. The compliance cost over the next 20 years is estimated to be over $3 billion dollars. The communities are spending hundreds of millions of dollars collecting terabytes of data for manhole inspections, televising, dye testing, and flow monitoring. A dilemma that all stakeholders are facing is how to cost effectively manage this data and monitor what has been accomplished versus what still needs to be done.

A Cost-Effective Solution
Allegheny County consent orders mandate the use of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. Among other requirements, the 83 communities must comply with various mapping, monitoring, inspection, and rehabilitation requirements. Implementing a GIS-based sewer system inspection, maintenance, and rehabilitation program can provide a cost-effective method for meeting various consent order requirements. A GIS-based program can be especially useful to comply with the system rehabilitation requirements of the consent orders as they mandate 1/5th of deficiency correction each year until 2010.

By integrating inspection data with GIS, a sewer rehabilitation decision support system can be developed to assist in the planning and design phases of rehabilitation work. For example, a community might use the proposed framework to identify immediate R5 designated repairs representing the worst type of problems based on National Association of Sewer Service Companies (NASSCO) Pipeline Assessment and Certification Program (PACP) sewer defect codes. The GIS integration can be accomplished using ArcGIS software that will link the sewer inspection and defect information contained in a database (e.g., WinCan) or spreadsheet to corresponding map features. Such a system can provide the consent order communities with GIS maps of problematic areas within a sewer pipe network, associated system repair activities (pipe lining, bursting, replacement, manhole repair and replacement, etc.) and the ability to output a series of reports detailing system damage, recommended remedial action, and cost estimates for the repair of damaged structures. The recent implementations have demonstrated that application of this approach can result in a 20-30% reduction in project management labor effort over traditional methods.

Presentation Objective
This presentation will focus on how to economically manage typical consent order community data such as, manhole inspections, televising, dye testing, and flow monitoring. It will also show how all of this data can be integrated with GIS mapping to create a sewer system rehabilitation decision support framework that can provide specific recommendations for rehabilitation. The presentation will follow the process from data entry through map and report generation. The topics covered include development and integration techniques, work products generated, and the benefits of using an integrated data management system over traditional project management methods. Several case study examples will be provided to demonstrate the GIS applications.

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