Roseville's wastewater collection group gets top notch award

Last Updated: 2/12/2016

Many don’t think of their wastewater collection system because it’s infrastructure that is usually out of sight. Deep below our city is an intricate network of sewer pipes and laterals that equate to about 735 miles—the same distance as three and a half roundtrips from Roseville to San Francisco.

You’ll be glad to know that this complex system is managed by the best: 27 dedicated employees that comprise the Environmental Utilities Wastewater Collection Division. Just last month, this division received top honors for “Collection System of the Year” in 2015 by the local chapter of the California Water Environment Association (CWEA).

“There’s a combination of great teamwork, endless creativity, and consistent performance by our wastewater collection group,” said Chris Bracco, wastewater superintendent. “They take ownership and responsibility in the work they do, helping to protect our community and the environment from adverse effects of things like sewer overflows. This award helps illustrate that pride.”

As part of the award submission process, judges evaluate each collection system using numerous categories, from meeting regulatory compliance and having a robust maintenance program to ensuring staff is trained properly. A key indicator of their success is overflow rates—or the measurement of untreated sewage that is discharged into the environment before it is treated. Roseville’s overflow rate is a whopping 78 percent lower than the state municipal average.

“Over the past years, we’ve focused on every aspect of the collection system, really trying to remain proactive in understanding the state of our wastewater infrastructure, making necessary fixes and rehabbing aging pipes and other improvements, and following a preventative maintenance schedule to a tee,” said Bracco. “These efforts, in addition to our capital improvement projects to improve the overall health of our systems, creates reliable services for those that live, work and do business here. Our job is to make sure there are no interruptions in the wastewater pipeline.”

One of the changes made over the years is a strong focus on customer service. Policies were developed and amended to enable crews the opportunity to assist customers to an even greater extent. Customer service cards were developed, which field staff hand out after every service call. He shares them at weekly staff meetings, which have turned into a friendly competition among the wastewater collection division.

“Often, the crew review the customer service cards to see who can get the best comments and rating from customers they’ve assisted, Bracco said. “And, it’s created comradery—which is important for a close-knit group like this.”

This is the sixth time Roseville has accepted the Sacramento Area Section CWEA award, having previously receiving it in 1995, 1996, 2002, 2006, and 2010. In 2010, Roseville also received top statewide honors for this very award. And, because of the 2015 award, the Wastewater Collections Division will vie for the statewide award again, hoping to repeat from just six years ago.