Palo Alto Institutes Pro-Active Plan To Locate, Correct Crossbores

April 2012, Vol. 67 No. 4

“City representatives are appearing before industry groups with presentations about crossbore inspections,” said Scoby. “Most recently, I was invited to speak at the Northern California Pipeline Users Group (PUG) in Berkley. This is a group of consulting engineers, wastewater and water system operators that conduct an annual seminar. The topic was outside of the normal issues addressed at this seminar and hopefully this presentation increased awareness of the issue with collection system operators. I have also given a crossbore presentation to the Santa Clara Valley section of the California Water Environment Agency consisting of water quality control treatment staff. Most recently, I participated in a crossbore panel discussion at the Common Ground Alliance conference in early March in Las Vegas, NV.”

Certainly, other U.S. cities are aware of Palo Alto’s crossbore inspection program.

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“I have spoken to other cities,” said Scoby, “but the topic is usually related to permits or conditions of approval for gas operators to access city owned wastewater collection systems. In my experience, gas operators are driving this investigative effort and need the cooperation of cities, wastewater collection agencies or other entities to create a productive cost efficient program.”

Does Scoby have advice for other cities as they face crossbore issues?

“I would start by meeting with the local gas operator and gauging their program to address this issue,” Scoby said. “This effort can easily be turned into a win-win situation by cooperating with the local gas operator. All of the crossbores we have found to date were associated with trenchless construction methods utilized to install gas systems. If the local gas operator has not used these construction methods, crossbore risk could be minimal. By win-win I am referring to avoided SSO (sanitary sewer overflow) events that were mitigated before video inspection could be conducted. It might be possible for the local agency to work with the gas operator to conduct system assessments and achieve accomplishments related to consent decrees from the local/state wastewater enforcement agency.”

Scoby concludes by adding that all gas operators nationwide were required to prepare and implement Distribution Integrity Management Programs (DIMP) by August 2011 to comply with recently-adopted Department of Transportation regulations requiring gas operators to categorize and evaluate risks associated with their systems.