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Streamlining Clean Water Act Compliance Like a Big City on a Small Town Budget

Marlborough, MA, USA

At a Glance

A small city, Marlborough, MA (pop. 40k) is utilizing data and technology to streamline its Industrial Pre-treatment Program (IPP) and Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG) programs to ensure easier compliance with the Clean Water Act.

Problem Addressed

Marlborough had close to 7 years of regulatory data that was collected to comply with the Clean Water Act, but none of it was being put to use in managing their IPP and FOG program. With a diverse spectrum of industries like food, pharmaceuticals, and electronics using a lot of water, and hundreds of food service establishments (FSEs) producing FOG, the public works crews were stuck in a reactionary approach to sanitary sewer overflows and collection system maintenance.

The lack of actionable insights from their effort meant that time was being wasted and system blockages couldn’t be traced to the source. At the core of their work were manual tasks that slowed overall management and decentralized the information being collected, hindering its value beyond the original use. The General Foreman of the Water & Sewer Division, Matthew Santella said, “As a one-man show, it was imperative that I found the right tools to get the data entry tasks under control and streamline my processes wherever possible, so I could spend more time in the field”.

Paperwork was the key challenge; onsite inspections were recorded on paper and then typed into the system, which meant data entry was duplicated and prone to human error. After the data was used for initial reporting, the records became hidden in filing cabinets for use. Ultimately all effort and information became siloed away from deeper contextual analysis.

Without reliable and up-to-date information, process inefficiencies became compounded and upholding the Clean Water Act became more difficult. The City looked to software solutions to close the gap and unlock their potential of achieving a proactive response by centralizing inspection history, automating scheduling, streamlining permitting, and managing regulatory reporting.

Marlborough, MA, Water & Sewer Division used/is using Linko for IPP & FOG management to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

With a prosperous industrial sector with big players from the food, pharmaceutical, and electronics industry, Marlborough, Massachusetts needed a more efficient way to enter and manage their wastewater and FOG data.

The city decided to utilize Linko, an end-to-end software platform to consolidate and report on wastewater for data-driven IPP and FOG management. Linko POM Portal allows the department to get all FSEs into the system, with electronic reporting onsite. The portal gathers electronic pump out manifests from the FSEs and/or haulers directly, eliminating manual data entry. Smaller establishments that are only required to self-clean their grease traps are even allowed to file a report online.

“Email reminders are automatically sent to the FSEs through the POM portal, which improves our compliance rate as owners appreciate the reminder,” said Santella.

Linko for Outlook streamlines the field data, helping to automate a host of tasks like inspection, pump out scheduling, issuing permit renewals, keeping the team up to date with regulatory changes and violation notices. It additionally connects with users’ Microsoft Outlook calendars aggregating history and contact information necessary for inspections.

“We now have the data at the tip of our fingers, meaning we have better intelligence from our FSE reports to prevent and solve blockage,” said Santella.

Outcomes

  1. Eliminated paperwork and duplicate data entry to streamline inspections and improve accuracy by using online inspection forms to enter data only once from the source
  2. Achieved deeper insights with improved access to historical and current information in a centralized database for all tracking and reporting
  3. With the ability to self-clean their grease traps and file a report online, small businesses have reached a compliance rate of 80%
  4. Improved data accuracy and reliability with automated error detection to better process high volumes of sampling data submitted with online tools for completing self-monitoring reports
  5. Streamlined field work by leveraging electronic submissions that automate inspection and pump-out scheduling, issuing permit renewals, violation notices, and more to maintain compliance

Lessons Learned

  1. Eliminating paperwork from the field and manual data entry at the office meant there was less chance for transcription errors
  2. Preventing and solving blockages requires a complete and centralized program view
  3. Cloud hosted solutions increase accessibility for all stakeholders, strengthened customer relationships, and streamline field work

Who Should Consider?

Cities, towns, and communities that need to track, monitor and regulate industrial pollutants and FOG through the sewer system

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