Trusted Partnerships Matter During Wastewater Emergencies

Trusted Partnerships Matter During Wastewater Emergencies
by Michael Delzingaro

Emergency bypass systems are built with rental pumps, piping, generators, bulldozers and lots of other equipment – but the ones that work best are built through trusted partnerships.

When sudden flooding or long-coming cracks in aging infrastructure lead to sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) or other emergency wastewater situations, time is in short supply. So much has to happen so fast – decisions made, plans drawn up, machinery and teams mobilized and moved into place – that any missed connections can lead to costly delays. 

That’s where strong and long-term partnerships come into play.  It takes a village to quell these emergencies quickly, and it helps immensely if everyone in the village already knows one another.

At Xylem we have a large network of rental locations and distributor partners across the United States. Through the years our teams at these front-line locations have formed tight bonds with their local wastewater departments – forged by coming through time after time in crisis situations. They know the plant operators and city directors by first name, and they know the water infrastructure of their local city or town like the back of their hand. When trouble arrives there’s no time wasted trying to figure out who to call or where to begin.

In March 2016, we saw how the power of trusted partnerships can help right the ship in a hurry. 

For a solid month, rain kept falling on the city of Memphis, Tennessee. The record deluge eroded the soil supporting a 96-inch sanitary sewer main and caused the line to fail. With no time to waste and lots of hard work to be done, City of Memphis officials activated their Emergency Response Plan, which included a call to the local Xylem team to organize and coordinate around-the-clock job teams. 

More than 30 Xylem staff members managed and worked side-by-side with approximately 100 Memphis Public Works and 60 contractor personnel to complete all the necessary tasks. The work included everything from mobilizing 14 Godwin diesel-driven Dri-Prime CD400M rental pumps to building a 2,400-foot-long, 40-foot-wide right-of-way “road” for the bypass piping.

This “all hands on deck” approach greatly accelerated the project timeline. Turnkey bypass solutions of this magnitude typically take upwards of two to three weeks to implement.  Our ability to reach out to municipal and contracting partners we knew well in Memphis accelerated the entire process. 

Just six days after the break, five of the pumps were operational and handling 50 million gallons per day of flow – a typical average daily flow rate for the system.  At the end of the next week, all 14 rental pumps, plus one additional redundant backup, were in place and online to handle the 160 MGD required flow.

Mike Leonard, our branch manager in Memphis, recalls the amazing amount of teamwork that went into the project.  “Working together as a whole, all of us – the City of Memphis, Xylem and the contractors – did something that people didn’t think was achievable.  For everyone involved, it was about getting the job done and helping the City of Memphis.”

That’s the power of trusted partnerships.  Words don’t do this project justice, so I encourage you to view a video that really brings home what happened in Memphis and how we couldn’t have achieved this rescue mission so quickly without so many close connections between our Xylem team and their customers and partners.