KC Water’s Smart Sewer program fulfills our commitment and obligation to protect the health of Kansas Citians, as well as our environment. The overflow control program (OCP) was developed for the Kansas City community by its residents. This plan was codified in the Consent Decree and became the Smart Sewer program. The goals?
- Maximize benefits while minimizing costs.
- Repair where we can, replace where we must, build new only when necessary.
- Use innovation at every turn.
- Let real-time data and sensors pinpoint what needs to be done.
- Use green infrastructure when possible.
- Use technology to make work efficient and safe.
- Measure how the system is performing and adjust the plan as needed.
Measuring & Predicting Flows with Smart Sensors:A network of almost 300 smart sensors located under manhole covers measure water flows and levels at critical points throughout Kansas City’s wastewater system.
- Sensor data train an artificial intelligence (AI) system that acts as the “brain” of our 150-year-old sewer system to predict how it will perform in various storm conditions.
- Predictions help the AI system “decide” how to best route the flow of wastewater.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts determine the most optimal place to store or direct wastewater.
Kansas City’s sanitary sewer system consists of separate and combined sewer systems. In the separate sewer system, stormwater and wastewater are collected in two different pipes, where wastewater is routed to a wastewater treatment plant for treatment, and stormwater flows directly to nearby rivers and streams without treatment. In the combined sewer system, stormwater and wastewater are collected in the same pipe and routed to a wastewater treatment plant for treatment.
To help reduce the frequency of combined sewer overflows, KC Water’s Smart Sewer program is separating portions of the combined sewer system in targeted areas of the City.
These improvements will help protect our community’s environment by reducing the amount of stormwater entering our sewer system, which will in turn reduce the frequency of sewer overflows and potential for basement backups. On some projects, green infrastructure is also being incorporated to handle discharges from the newly separated storm sewers and capture stormwater where it falls.
Neighborhood Sewer Rehabilitation
In many neighborhoods throughout Kansas City, wastewater and stormwater are combined to flow through the same pipes. As a part of KC Water’s Smart Sewer program, targeted areas throughout the City are being restored to remove excess rainwater from this combined sewer system. Repairing and rehabilitating neighborhood sewer systems, including pipes and manholes, will help protect our community’s environment by reducing the amount of stormwater entering our sewer system.
Diversion Structure & Sewer Consolidation
As part of KC Water’s Smart Sewer program, publicly-owned sewers in targeted areas throughout the combined sewer system are being consolidated. These projects can reduce the complexity of the sewer system by reducing the number of outfalls, and in some cases, removing them entirely. Consolidation typically results in lower maintenance costs, easier and more accurate monitoring of rain events, and fewer sewer overflows during smaller rain events.
Green infrastructure helps our community manage stormwater the way nature intended by capturing and utilizing rainwater where it falls. It decreases the amount of water getting into our pipes, improves water quality, and reduces flooding, pollution, and trash in our streams, rivers, and lakes. Green infrastructure slows, absorbs, and filters stormwater before it enters and overflows Kansas City’s sewer system. It replenishes groundwater and sustains plants, trees, and natural habitats while working with gray infrastructure to increase the capacity of our underground pipes. It also helps to filter pollutants from rainwater runoff before it is discharged into our streams and rivers.
KC Water’s Smart Sewer program is installing a variety of green infrastructure installations in targeted areas throughout the City. Learn more about green infrastructure in Kansas City.
Inflow and infiltration (I/I) is a term used to describe rainwater and groundwater that enters sewer pipes that are meant to carry wastewater only. When it rains, stormwater can enter our wastewater sewer system through breaks and faulty connections, which can overwhelm the system and lead to sewer overflows.
As a part of KC Water’s Smart Sewer program, publicly-owned sewers, pipes, and manholes in targeted areas throughout Kansas City are being restored to reduce the amount of I/I entering our wastewater system. These repairs will help protect our community’s environment by reducing the amount of stormwater and groundwater entering our sewer system, which will reduce the frequency of sewer overflows.
Pumping and Conveyance
KC Water’s Smart Sewer program is working on pumping and conveyance projects within our combined sewer system — where stormwater and wastewater are collected in the same pipe. These projects will increase the capacity of key pump stations across Kansas City, allow more combined stormwater and wastewater to flow to our wastewater treatment plants, and reduce the frequency of sewer combined sewer overflows.
Storage and Conveyance
KC Water’s Smart Sewer program includes projects to improve storage and conveyance within our combined sewer system. This will increase the capacity of our system, redirecting and storing wet weather flows during large rain events. These flows are re-released into the system once the storm passes and the flows recede. This added capacity will reduce the frequency of sewer overflows.
Wastewater treatment plants remove contaminants from wastewater before it reenters our waterways. Physical, chemical, and biological processes are used to remove contaminants and produce treated wastewater that is safe to release into the environment.
As a part of KC Water’s Smart Sewer program, improvements are being made to increase the capacity and functionality of our wastewater treatment facilities. This means our system will be able to handle more flow during heavy rain, reducing the frequency of sewer overflows.