Between August and September of 2016, several areas of Florida were impacted by hurricanes Hermine and Matthew. The extreme weather conditions caused by these storms led to wastewater system failures in the Tampa Bay area and Northeast Florida, causing significant impacts to water quality and the environment. As a result, Florida Governor Rick Scott ordered FDEP to evaluate the overflows, determine underlying causes, and develop solutions to prevent similar incidents. FDEP tasked RS&H with a portion of this effort, which involved extensive data collection, site visits, and interviews with wastewater system managers at nine different utilities around the state.
Analysis of Wastewater Infrastructure
RS&H performed GIS analysis, root cause analysis, and vulnerability assessment to determine environmental conditions, collection/transmission system failures, and wastewater treatment system failures that led to SSOs and unpermitted discharges. Geospatial and Microsoft Access databases were built to map and analyze multiple factors leading to failures. RS&H also researched and documented Best Management Practices (BMPs) utilized by utilities after Hurricane Sandy and Katrina and determined their applicability to Florida wastewater utilities. RS&H analyzed the condition of wastewater infrastructure in accordance with industry and EPA guidelines and reviewed each utility’s Emergency Response Plan (ERP).
Increased Resiliency of Wastewater Management Systems for Florida Department of Environmental Protection
After collecting relevant data, RS&H performed a Pareto analysis to identify and prioritize common failure modes that led to the unpermitted discharges. Once identified, RS&H was able to recommend solutions to reduce the likelihood of each failure model reoccurring in a future storm event. These recommendations increased the resilience of the wastewater management systems and reduced their vulnerability to extreme precipitation, storm surge, tidal inundation, and loss of power due to high winds. Per the client’s requirements, the entire effort was completed within an abbreviated schedule of approximately two months.