The City of Medicine Hat's Source Control program was developed to help safeguard the City's sanitary sewer collection system and to protect the Wastewater Treatment Plant from incoming contamination. The sanitary sewer collection system plays a vital role in transporting wastes from residences and local businesses to the Wastewater Treatment Plant for treatment.
Blockages in the collection system can result in backups into resident's homes, or sanitary sewer overflows which can have a traumatic effect on the environment and on public health. Contamination in the collection system can reach the Wastewater Treatment Plant, potentially causing a plant upset where the biological treatment capacity of the plant is compromised. This can result in untreated wastes being discharged into the South Saskatchewan River. Using a combination of industrial monitoring, site inspections, compliance audits, and educational resources the City's Source Control Officers meet with local commercial, industrial, and institutional users to ensure compliance with the City's Sewer Bylaw.
The Source Control Officers use a combination of grab samplers and automated composite samplers to take samples of the effluent (sewage discharge) from the industrial sector. These samples are analyzed at a laboratory and the results are compared to the limits in Sewer Bylaw #1541. The Source Control Officers work with local businesses to meet the limits in the bylaw, and provide permits for generators that have a discharge greater than 100,000 cubic feet per month (2832 cubic meters per month). The Source Control Officers also take regular monitoring samples at strategic points in the collection system to monitor for any harmful or dangerous substances in the collection system.
A significant portion of the Source Control program is the on-going FOG (Fats, Oils, and Grease) campaign. FOG generated by restaurants, food service providers and residents is a major contributor to blockages in the sanitary sewer collection system. The best solution to this problem is to eliminate it at the source. Working with local food service establishments to reduce the amount of FOG that discharges into the sewer system keeps the sewers flowing properly, which means less backups into residences and businesses. A sewer backup into a restaurant can be very costly to clean up and will result in the Public Health authority shutting down the operation until the cleanup is complete. The lost revenue and negative public perception are even more costly than the cleanup, and it is clear that prevention of the backup in the first place is the best option. Source Control Officers will inspect local businesses to help identify Best Management Practices for reduction of FOG, and will inspect grease interceptors and sumps to ensure they are kept in peak operating efficiency.
Similarly, commercial businesses that have the potential to discharge oils, hydrocarbons, sand, grit etc. will also be the focus of routine site inspections. Interceptors are required at locations such as these to protect the sanitary sewer collection system from the discharge of harmful and hazardous substances. Volatile substances can have extremely harmful effects on the sewer system, the environment and pose a public safety concern.
Similar to the Site Inspections, but focused on the industrial sector, the Source Control Officers will review a company's processes and audit their process against Sewer Bylaw #1541. Data from in-line analyzers or grab samples are reviewed, and any deficiencies are identified to the company. The Source Control Officers are a resource for the City of Medicine Hat's industrial sector in the areas of pre-treatment and sampling.