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Employing Intelligent Watershed Technology to Reduce CSOs & Achieve Capital Savings

South Bend, IN

The South Bend Department of Public Works utilized BLU-X, Xylem's distributed real-time decision support system consisting of smart sensors and actuators that track available conveyance capacity to better understand the realities of their overflow problems and, ultimately, help the city avoid flooding.

Topics Covered

Hurricanes & Severe Storms
Stormwater Management
Water Quality


Initial: 10 Million USD


General Fund/Existing Public Funds

Federal grants

Project Status

Operational since 2022

Gov Champion

Department of Public Works

Problem Addressed

Many 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 stormwater and wastewater within interceptor and underflow lines designed to carry only the maximum dry weather flow into the local Saint Joseph River. Virtually every time it rained heavily, South Bend faced sewer overflows into the Saint Joseph River because the City`s aging sewer system could not handle the excess discharge, an average of some 1-2 billion gallons annually. In 2011, the City, under the leadership of Public Works Director Eric Horvath, entered into a consent decree, agreeing to a long-term control plan (LTCP) of their sewer overflow estimated at more than $860 million. With a population of just over 100,000, this equated to a burden of nearly $10,000 per citizen, which is economically unfeasible given that South Bend's average annual household income is around $32,000.

Solutions Used

BLU-X, a distributed real-time decision support system (RT-DSS) consisting of smart sensors and actuators that trade available conveyance capacity in real time, like an underground stock market, to avoid flooding was commissioned and installed. The BLU-X RT-DSS also began serving overflow information via SCADA screens to operators, via smartphones and tablets to field staff, and through Web portals jointly developed with the City’s engineering staff, giving operators the ability to override the system at any time and take control.



South Bend took a 700 million dollar program and accomplish the same environmental benefit and level of service for 200 million dollars - just by optimizing the existing system in the ground


Approximately $1.5 million in annual operating and maintenance cost savings since implementing their Smart Sewer program


Dry weather overflows have been eliminated and combined sewer overflow volumes reduced by more than 70 percent, or roughly one billion gallons per year


E.coli concentrations in the Saint Joseph River have dropped by more than 50 percent on average, improving the water quality


Achieved desired environmental gains 10 to 15 years ahead of schedule

Something Unique

The application of market mimetic algorithms running gates and valves throughout the sewershed using edge computing.

Who Should Consider

Any city with sewer overflow, blockage or infiltration and inflow challenges

Last Updated

Apr 4th, 2019
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