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Case study

Combined Sewer Overflow Volume Reduction

City of South Bend, Indiana


A lot of especially older cities have sewer overflow problems

associated with wet weather events. Those problems were particularity
evident in the City of South Bend, which is saddled with aging
infrastructure and a combined sewer system that carries both storm
water and waste water within interceptor and underflow lines designed
to carry only the maximum dry weather flow.

Prior to 2008, the sewers would overflow into the Saint Joseph
River virtually every time it rained – overflows of some 1-2 billion
gallons or more annually. The City typically reported 25-30 dry
weather overflows each year as well that it knew of. In 2011, South Program Highlights
Bend entered into a consent decree with EPA Region 5 and the • $1.5 million per year in operations and
U.S. Department of Justice, agreeing to a long-term control plan maintenance benefits
(LTCP) today estimated at more than $860 million in total, with
• Elimination of dry weather overflows
approximately $730 million remaining to be spent.
• E.coli concentrations in St. Joe River decrease
“If you can identify problems before they happen, 50% on average
prevent overflow events or increase a system’s holding
• Over 70% reduction in combined sewer
capacity with no new infrastructure, you can plan for overflow volumes (roughly 1 billion gallons
future growth accurately and cost effectively.” per year)

Solution • Estimated $500 million in capital work savings

In 2008, the City of South Bend installed and commissioned a
Services Provided:
real-time monitoring system of more than 120 sensor locations
• City-wide real-time decision support system (RT-DSS)
throughout the City’s urban watershed. In 2012, after a thorough data for optimizing sewer infrastructure
review, the City, along with EmNet, now part of Xylem, engineering • 165 networked sensors and software agents optimally
firm Greeley and Hanson and local construction firms installed and operating 13 gates and valves city-wide

commissioned a distributed real-time decision support system (RT- • All sensor data presented on unified platform

DSS) consisting of auxiliary throttle lines with valves, governed by • Increased watershed understanding

an agent-based optimization strategy where distributed computing • Fully integrates into city’s existing IT networks

agents trade available conveyance capacity in real time, similar to a • Crews alerted to grit, FOG, sewer collapse & blockages
in real time
commodities market.
The RT-DSS serves information via SCADA screens to operators,
smartphones and tablets for field staff, and Web portals jointly
developed with the City’s engineering staff. The operators have the
ability to override the system at any time and take control.
“One of the most successful programs is our Smart
Sewers program, created to minimize the amount of
sewage that goes to the St. Joe River. We took a 700
million dollar program and for the same environmental
benefit, and not changing the level of service, do that for
200 million dollars, just by optimizing the existing system
in the ground.”
Eric Horvath, Director of Public Works, City of South Bend

Since 2012, the now 152 monitoring sites and 13 automated gates and
valves have eliminated dry weather overflows and reduced combined
sewer overflow (CSO) into the Saint Joseph River by more than 70 percent.
Eric Horvath, Director of Public Works for South Bend, believes in the
benefit of the real-time decision support system approach. In 2014, he
reopened the city’s consent decree and began the process to rewrite
their LTCP on the basis that they no longer need half or more of the
capital assets to achieve the same level of control and environmental
benefit. If successful, the city will reduce the capital expense by as much
as $500 million.

“By working with EmNet, we were able to reduce our

CSO volume by more than 70 percent and therefore,
may avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in new sewer
infrastructure costs. We started by turning on the lights
with a distributed sensor network, which dynamically
optimize sewer flows with a network of gates and valves,
and drastically improved the system performance,
capacity utilization and resiliency.”
Since implementing its Smart Sewer program, the City has enjoyed
approximately $1.5 million in annual operating and maintenance
benefits. By optimizing the system, the city has saved approximately
$500 million in capital work savings.
Dry weather overflows have been eliminated and E.coli concentrations in
the Saint Joe River have dropped by more than 50 percent on average.
As well, the City has reduced combined sewer overflow volumes by As proof of the environmental gains, residents
more than 70 percent, or roughly one billion gallons per year. and tourists are again now sport fishing salmon
in the Saint Joe River without trepidation.
Overall, this intelligent program allowed South Bend to reduce costly
Photo: Kieran Fahey, Long Term Control Plan
traditional gray infrastructure, while improving system performance and
Manager, City of South Bend
capacity utilization, delivering environmental gains sought 10 to 15 years
ahead of schedule. As proof, residents and tourists are again now sport
fishing salmon in the Saint Joe River without trepidation.

For more information, please contact us:
121 S. Niles Ave, Suite 22
South Bend, IN 46617
© 2018 Xylem