JEA Takes Lead In Proactive Sewer, Water Maintenance

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | September 2009 Vol. 64 No. 9

"Six Sigma embraces a philosophy of continuous improvement through a deepening understanding of root causes of problems and targeted approaches to maximize improvements," Kelly explained.

An example of how Six Sigma is applied to sanitary sewer system management is the way JEA responds to sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) and sanitary sewer events (SSEs). Under Florida law, SSOs are overflows that reach waters of the state. Overflows are defined as exceeding 1,000 gallons or that could impact public health. While SSEs do not meet these criteria and are not reportable, JEA gathers data as part of the Six Sigma data driven approach to address the underlying root causes of problems.

"JEA has significantly advanced the development and implementation of the management, operation and maintenance programs to achieve its goal of zero preventable overflows," said Kelly

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JEA has established a formally functioning Root Cause Committee.

"This committee meets biweekly to review every SSE and SSO," Kelly said. “They identify the root cause and determine short- and long term corrective action to prevent reoccurrence. They also identify any improvements that can be made to reporting procedures. This information is tracked in the PCAN (preventive and corrective act notification) data base through to completion of remediation steps."

Kelly describes the process: When a complaint or notice comes into JEA, a first responder checks on the incident, notifies the ERC, and works with a follow up crew to determine what must be done to alleviate the situation. If it involves an SSE or SSO, a crew recovers the spill and cleans up the area using lime for disinfection and odor control. The First Responders arrive within 45 minutes of the initial call. They have special equipment that is capable of unstopping sewers and preventing or minimizing SSEs or SSOs. If the event is an SSE or SSO, proper reporting follows. If the spill has reached a water body, appropriate water quality testing is performed.

SSEs are reported through the Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR) to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and are recorded. SSOs are reported to the State Warning Point within 24 hours and are also recorded.

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