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The Green Life: New Computer Maps Help Californians Track Sewage Overflows

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May 15, 2009

New Computer Maps Help Californians Track Sewage Overflows

Sewage The California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) has introduced a new, online mapping tool that allows the public, the media, and regulatory agencies to access sewage-spill information on maps that are updated every 24 hours; they were developed using off-the-shelf technology and Google Maps.

Sanitary Sewage Overflow (SSO) Incident Maps give the location, amount, and source of an overflow, as well as the name of the agency or party responsible for cleaning it up. The data change as the situation develops and staff in the field input new information. The combined information makes it possible to track the a spill's history, and the development of potential patterns of trouble.

Lateral SSO Incident Maps allow the public to see sewage overflows from private pipes, maintained by property owners, which empty from private businesses and homes into public sewers. Lateral pipes often suffer spills and overflows that affect public systems.

Data entered into the Incident Maps are supplied by sewer and water-system operators as part of a mandatory reporting program. Data about spills and overflows on laterals are entered by the same agencies, but on a voluntary basis. The SWRCB hopes to eventually include information about SSOs at sewage-treatment plants.

--Tom Valtin

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