Wastewater Injury prevention and safety

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Injury prevention and safety

  • Injury prevention and safety

  • Environmental systems

  • Wastewater systems, assessments, and surveys

  • Waste handling in emergencies

  • Clean up

  • Sampling

  • Resource information

Learning Objectives

  • By the end of this module participants will

  • Increase understanding of wastewater issues faced in disasters

  • Increase understanding of the role of environmental health practitioners in addressing wastewater issues

  • Be able to identify key response partners

  • Increase understanding of the basic components of systems

  • Practice and demonstrate basic skills related to wastewater issues -Common tests, sampling, treatment, assessment

  • Identify key messages for the public and response partners

Environmental Health Functions

  • Ensure proper wastewater disposal and treatment is provided

  • Prevent diseases caused by improper handling of wastewater

  • Prevent contamination of water supplies

  • Provide information on wastewater treatment and handling

  • Conduct interventions needed to protect the public from wastewater in food service and other industries

Reasons for Concern

  • Aging water and wastewater infrastructure

  • Population growth

  • Frequency of natural disasters

  • Raw sewage releases

Impact on Wastewater Systems

  • Physical damage

    • Treatment plants
    • Collection pipes
    • Onsite systems; septic tanks
  • Loss-of-power effects

  • Workforce affected

Key Partners

  • Emergency management agency

  • State and local departments

  • Public works and wastewater utilities

  • Volunteer and community organizations

  • Portable sanitation industry

  • Septage and sewage haulers

  • Emergency Support Functions (ESF)

  • Industry

  • Media


  • Assessment

  • Consultation

  • Monitoring environment

  • Public information

  • Preparing Planning

  • Leadership

  • Support activities

  • Liaison activities

Three Keys of EH Response

Disaster Recovery: Wastewater

Priority Activities

  • Determine whether services have been affected

  • Coordinate emergency waste disposal for key facilities

  • Assist system operators if requested

  • Assess sanitation of disposal units and sites

  • Ensure emergency water supplies are safe

  • Provide information on proper waste collection and disposal

Why Wastewater

  • Exposure to wastewater can cause numerous illnesses

Disease Transmission

Citizens’ Priorities

  • Family/safety/security

  • Shelter

  • Power

  • Drinking water

  • Food

  • Ice

Injury Prevention/Safety

Safety Is Job #1

  • Personal Safety

  • Electrocution

  • Carbon monoxide

  • Musculoskeletal hazards

  • Thermal stress

  • Structural instability

  • Hazardous materials

  • Confrontations

  • Fire

  • Drowning, mechanical

  • Personal protective equipment: use it!

  • Driving, animals, insects, slips/falls

  • Stress, fatigue

  • Confined spaces: must be trained

Emergency Wastewater

Improvised Wastewater Systems

Emergency Waste Collection

Florida Sanitary Package (SanPac)

Special Needs Shelter: Type III SanPac

  • SanPac= 4 portable toilets, 2 handicap-accessible toilets, 1 hand wash sink, 1 dumpster

  • Remember to order with service

Standard SanPac

Super SanPac: Order form

Customized SanPac

  • Toilet grid for residences

  • One portable toilet for every two residences

  • One hand wash sink for every five portable toilets (hand sanitizer at each portable toilet)

  • Order service plan

Emergency Waste Disposal

Field Toilets


  • Options:

  • Use campers/motor homes with restroom and holding tank

  • Create a homemade port-a-john:

    • Use 5-gallon buckets lined with heavy-duty plastic garbage bags
    • Add deodorizer such as lime, household bleach or kitty litter
    • Keep buckets in a cool, dark place, tight lid
    • Do not throw human waste in regular trash
    • Dispose of waste by flushing down the toilet when services are restored or bury
    • Clean and disinfect buckets
  • Modify existing toilet:

    • Flush until the bowl has no water
    • Line with heavy-duty trash bags and disinfect with chlorine bleach after each use
    • When full, tie shut and remove to an outside location


  • A Gymnasium is to be used as a shelter for 1000 people. After review of the floor plan. Determine the number of additional portable toilets and hand washing stations that would be needed for the facility.

    • Number of toilets
    • Number of hand washing stations
    • Recommend area of placement
    • What other items should be considered

Public Sewer Systems

Drinking Water Supplies and Wastewater

Wastewater Treatment Process

Wastewater Collection System

Sewage Lift Station

Collection System Damages

Collection System Damages

Treatment System Damages

Emergency Generators

Emergency Response and Preparedness

  • Water and Wastewater Agency Response Networks (WARN)


  • Additional WARN Resources:

  • AWWA WaterWeek Article

  • AWWA Mainstream Article

  • Journal AWWA Article

  • WARN White Paper

  • Simple Mutual Aid Agreement

  • Update to Sample Agreement - 09/07

  • Joint Policy Statement

  • EPA EMAC Tip Sheet for Water Sector

  • EPA Water Sector Mutual Aid & Assistance Fact Sheet


  • WARN Status and Contacts by State


Public Wastewater System Issues

  • Engineered safety factors compromised

  • Flooded lift station overloaded the down line station

  • Residents not minimizing water usage

  • Private well unpredictable flows

  • Shortage of replacement power poles

Public Wastewater System Issues

  • Inadequate generator capacity

  • Lift station without proper wiring connections

  • Inadequate lift station identification

  • Lack of septage pumping trucks

  • Infrastructure problems

  • Aging infrastructure for wastewater facilities

Lessons Learned by Public Wastewater Utilities

  • Smart utilities: join WARN

  • Provide adequate number of high capacity generators for lift stations

  • Purchased extra mobile generators and sewage pumping equipment

  • Establish contracts with private septage pumping companies

  • Establish local utility agreements

Lessons Learned (continued)

  • Knowledge of community wastewater operations

  • Listing of WWTPs

  • Current utility listing, maps

  • List of RV parks with sewage dump stations

  • Printed list of septage and portable toilet companies

  • Emergency plans and contact information

  • List of key contacts

Assessment Process

Rapid Damage Assessment

Water and wastewater facility report


  • You are the environmental health officer assigned to a host community shelter with 5000 residents. A water main has broken affecting water supply to the building. It will 24-48 before water pressure is restored. Bottled water is plentiful but toilets will not flush.

    • What options do you have for collecting human waste?
    • What emergency actions would you recommend?

Onsite Wastewater Systems

Onsite Wastewater Systems

Wells and Wastewater

Onsite Systems in the Community

Four components of onsite systems

  • ● Collection and Transmission

  • ● Pretreatment

  • ● Application and Distribution

  • ● Effluent Dispersal and Final Treatment

Standard Septic System

In the Tank

The Drainfield

Septic Drainfield Installation

Two major categories of onsite systems

  • Conventional/Standard Systems

  • Advanced/Alternative/Supplemental Systems

Mound Systems

Low Pressure Pipe System

        • NSFC

Advanced treatment

Onsite System Issues Physical damage to onsite systems

Onsite System Issues Storm Surge and Onsite System Damage

Onsite System Damage

Onsite System Issues Trees uprooted drainfield

Onsite System Issues Floating and collapsed septic tanks

Onsite System Issues Erosion

Onsite System Issues Flooded drainfied

FEMA Helps: Onsite Systems and Wells

  • FEMA to provide sewer, septic tank reimbursement



  • BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana residents in disaster-declared parishes whose wells or septic systems were damaged as a result of Hurricanes Katrina or Rita may be eligible for financial assistance from The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to complete necessary repairs.

  • Homeowners in declared areas may be eligible for grant funding to pump septic tanks, perform required repairs or replace the system as needed. Damaged private wells that are the sole source of water for the home also may be repaired or decontaminated.

  • "We don't want anyone living in a house with contaminated water or raw sewage," said FEMA Deputy Federal Coordinating Officer Scott Wells. "Applicants for state and federal disaster assistance should advise the FEMA inspector they have a private well and septic system." Home-repair grants are designed to restore the home to a safe, secure and functional condition. To qualify for this disaster assistance, applicants must own their home, and the home must be their primary residence. Grants are not intended to restore a home to pre-disaster condition and cannot be used for cosmetic repairs or repairs covered by insurance. Any Louisiana resident in a declared parish who suffered damage or losses from the recent hurricanes can register for disaster assistance by calling the FEMA toll-free registration number 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The number for people with hearing or speech impairment is (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. Individuals may also register for disaster assistance at the FEMA Web site www.fema.gov.

  • FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.

  • For more information on Louisiana disaster recovery, visit www.fema.gov or www.ohsep.louisiana.gov.

Helping Onsite System Owners

  • Information on your agency’s Web site

  • Prepare brochures and handouts for disaster preparedness events

  • Attend Homeowners’ Association meetings

  • Provide homeowners with as-built system locations

Helping Onsite Systems Owners

  • Know location of septic system

  • Understanding the system

  • Limit waste stream, conserve water

  • Obtain emergency generators if needed

Helping Onsite System Owners

  • Provide lists of

    • Portable toilet companies
    • Septic tank service companies
  • Advice on proper use of lime for sewage overflows, etc.

  • Advice on disinfection and cleaning

  • Provide information through

    • Home improvement centers
    • Community centers
    • FEMA
  • Information phone lines

Lessons Learned

  • Potential contamination drinking water sources

  • Standards for systems serving emergency housing

  • Sufficient locations identified for land application of treated waste

  • Establish list of treatment plants accepting portable toilet waste and septage, established MOUs

  • Portable toilets that are moved or stolen and being ordered in insufficient quantity or without service plan

Exercise – Onsite System

  • Your county has experienced a flood…..Environmental Health staff have been working on daily “Sit-Reps” on all issues of public and environmental health….your EH Director decides that a press release/public health advisory is necessary for owners of onsite systems in your county.

    • What items of information should you include in a public health advisory

Other considerations:

  • Mobile/manufactured homes

  • Limited septage treatment/disposal sites

  • Availability of service providers (operations and maintenance personnel)


Public Health Advisory

  • Minimize use of household water (consider doing laundry at a commercial facility if available until system is functioning properly and/or repaired)

  • Do not pump septic tank until groundwater levels recede to normal levels

  • Do not allow children to play in flood waters; sewage-contaminated water causes many diseases

  • If you also have a private well for drinking water, and the well casing is flooded, boil your water per health department recommendations before drinking

  • Have well water tested for bacteria levels after flood waters recede

  • Have your system professionally inspected by a licensed septic system contractor as soon as possible after the event

  • Contact your local health department for information regarding your onsite system and repair permitting procedures

Sewage Backup and Spill Cleanup

Flooding and Sewage Backup

  • Daytona Beach News-Journal, Last update: June 02, 2005 By MELISSA GRIGGS, Staff Writer

  • City settles effluent claim ORMOND BEACH -- City officials have agreed to pay a woman for damages to her home after it was flooded with raw sewage during Hurricane Frances. Barbara Sandberg, who lives in the 500 block of Riverside Drive, settled her claim with the city for $7,455, according to city records. The flooding on Sept. 17 damaged her floors, carpets, furniture and other personal property. City Attorney Randy Hayes said the city's claim committee denied Sandberg's request for reimbursement but she appealed to the City Commission, which approved a settlement.

  • Hayes determined the city had not been negligent and the sewer backup was caused by a loss of power to a lift station during the hurricane. Sandberg argued the city should have installed a backup generator at the lift station.

  • Another city resident, Charles Folcik, also has filed a claim against the city after sewage damage to his home. "Somebody from the city was working on the sewer lines and somehow the sewer backed up into our home," said Folcik, who lives in the 400 block of Ocean Shores Blvd. "A member of our family was in the bathroom at the time and got sprayed with backed up sewage." Folcik submitted a claim for $9,539 in damages from the Sept 13 incident.

  • "We had to tear out our carpets," he said. "They were soaked to the floor. The bathroom erupted. Our washroom erupted. The walls were soaked."

  • Folcik said his repair expenses will be even more now because the house has developed mold.

  • "I want the city to live up to its obligations," he said.

  • Hayes said the city is waiting to receive receipts and other information to document the claim. He said Folcik's claim is not related to the same lift station failure that caused the damage to Sandberg's home.

  • "We need to get additional information to further evaluate his claim," said Hayes. "The claim committee has reviewed his claim. It hasn't been approved or denied. We simply don't have enough information. "Hopefully we will be able to work with him to get it resolved soon," said Hayes.

FEMA Guidance: Sewage Backup

  • In flood-prone areas, flooding can cause sewage from sanitary sewer lines to back up into houses through drain pipes “basements are prone to problems”

  • Backflow valves - prevention measure

    • Valve prevents flow in reverse direction
    • Variety of designs
  • Use licensed plumbers to install

Backflow Valve

Preventing Backup

  • Elder valve


Sewage Spill Cleanup

Sewage Cleanup and Remediation Procedure

  • Determine the limits

  • Contain the spill

  • Use PPE:

  • Spread powdered lime over the entire spill area

  • Remove material such playground sand

  • Allow a day to dry

  • Rake up excess and place in heavy garbage bag

  • Revegetate area

  • Treat hard surfaces with lime or a bleach/water solution

  • Wash hands and protect open wounds

Sewage Spill Treatment: Lime (Hydrated Lime)

Calcium Hypochlorite (HtH)

Sewage Spill Protocol

Flood Waters Toxic Soup or Not?

  • What test should be done?

  • Recreation water testing

    • Bacteriologic
    • Chemical test
  • Flood water testing

  • Health messages

Sampling Methods

  • Bacteriologic

    • Common tests: fecal and enteric
    • Regulations (recreation water)
  • Chemical

    • Common tests: metals, hydrocarbons, and pesticides
    • Regulations (recreation water)

Sampling Procedures

  • Chemical

    • Use containers supplied by laboratory
  • Biological

    • At lab within 6 hours of collection
      • Allow for difficult travel conditions
    • 18” below surface of water
    • Use sampling container and water scoop

Transportation Constraints

Sewage and Surface Water

Sewage Release to Surface Water

  • Post the area and notify media that beach has been posted

  • Notify state environment and public health agencies

  • Inform local vendors

  • Pull samples in area and test for fecal coliform and enterococci

  • Ensure spill has been cleaned up; lime if needed

  • State notification

Sewage/Septage Waste Disposal

  • Using sanitary sewer plants or septage land application sites

Recommendation – Sewer Backup

Public Health Advisory

  • If sewage has backed up into your home, secure the affected areas from access

  • Keep children and pets out of wet areas affected by sewage

  • If your entire home has been saturated, move to temporary housing until all carpeting, rugs, sheetrock, baseboards, etc. have been properly cleaned and disinfected

  • When making repairs to the outside of your home after the flooding or storm has passed, do not allow any vehicles to park on top of your septic tank system!

Public Health Advisory

  • Wear rubber boots and gloves when cleaning up affected areas

  • Discard any items that cannot be disinfected or cleaned properly (advise on how to make a proper disinfecting solution)

  • After cleaning, help the drying process by using fans, air conditioning units, and dehumidifiers if possible

  • Wash all clothing contaminated with flood or sewage water in hot water and detergent

  • Wash hands

Next Steps


  • Alabama Public Health Training Network; A Division of the Alabama Department of Public Health: http://www.adph.org/ALPHTN

  • American Water Works Association; Water and Wastewater Agency Response Networks:

  • http://www.awwa.org/Government/Content.cfm?ItemNumber=3837&&navItemNumber=3838

  • Arkansas Watershed Advisory Group:

  • http://www.awag.org/Education.html

  • California Department of Public Health - Beaches and Recreational Waters: Regulations and Guidance:

  • http://www.cdph.ca.gov/healthinfo/environhealth/water/Pages/Beaches.aspx

  • City of Pensacola: Post-Disaster Recovery and Redevelopment:

  • http://escambia-emergency.com/Local_Mitigation/LMSdraftupdate/E-MitigationPlan/CityofPensacolaPostDisaster/PostDisasterRedevelopment.pdf


  • CDC / HUD Healthy Housing Reference Manual: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/publications/books/housing/housing.htm

  • CDC: Sanitizing With Bleach After a Disaster: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/bleach.asp

  • EH Preparedness Contact Information Map by County (Florida): http://def.sharepoint.doh.ad.state.fl.us/deh/Preparedness/countycontactmap.aspx

  • Elder Valve Inc: http://www.eldervalve.com

  • EPA: What Happens After the Flush:

  • http://www.epa.gov/npdes/pubs/what_happens_after_the_flush.pdf

  • EPA, How Wastewater Treatment Works The Basics:

  • http://www.epa.gov/npdes/pubs/bastre.pdf

  • EPA Water Quality Standards: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/standards


  • EPA Wastewater Online Articles:

  • http://yosemite.epa.gov/water/owrccatalog.nsf

  • EPA: What Can You Do to Protect Local Waterways?

  • http://www.epa.gov/npdes/pubs/centralized_brochure.pdf

  • EPA’s Sustaining Our Nation’s Water Infrastructure:

  • http://www.epa.gov/waterinfrastructure/pdfs/brochure_si_sustainingournationswaters.pdf

  • EPA’s Sustainable Infrastructure for Water and Wastewater-Basic Information:

  • http://www.epa.gov/waterinfrastructure/basicinformation.html

  • Florida Department of Environmental Protection; Surface Water Quality Standards:

  • http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wqssp/surface.htm

  • FEMA ESF List: www.fema.gov/emergency/nrf

  • FEMA: Protecting Your Property From Flooding:

  • http://www.fema.gov/pdf/plan/prevent/howto/how2007.pdf


  • Information on Louisiana Disaster Recovery: www.fema.gov

  • www.ohsep.louisiana.gov

  • New York Times: Sewage Spill During the Blackout Exposed a Lingering City Problem:

  • http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage

  • Vallejo Sanitation and Flood Control District: Flooding/Sewer Backup Determination:

  • http://www.floridadep.org/mainpage/em/2005/dennis/news/0712_03.htm

  • Red Cross: http://www.tallytown.com/redcross/library/FS-SewerBackflowValves

  • Septic Systems - What to Do after a Flood:

  • http://www.inspect-ny.com/septic/septicflood.htm


  • Kitsap County Health District Water Quality Program-Policy and Procedure:

  • http://www.kitsapcountyhealth.com/environmenta_health/water_quality/docs/policy_sewage_spill

  • U.S. Global Change Research Program: http://www.usgcrp.gov/usgcrp/default.php

  • Vallejo Sanitation and Flood Control District:

    • http://www.vsfcd.com/report.htm
  • Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia: Demographics of the United States:

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_United_States


Optional Exercise - Sewage Spill

  • The health department just received a phone call from the local utility company stating that there has been a major sewage spill on the beach. An unknown amount of sewage has gone into a popular recreational lake.

    • What are your next steps?

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