Hamilton County using 'smart sewers' to control overflow

Posted at 4:30 AM, Jun 13, 2017

CINCINNATI -- The Metropolitan Sewer District has found a way to quickly address overflowing sewer lines.

They call it the "smart sewer system." Every minute, the ultrasonic sensors collect data on how much water is in the sewer, according to MSD Wet Weather Operations Manager Reese Johnson.

The county has used sensors in sewers for years, but not like this.

"Having the data in real time is absolutely crucial," Johnson said.

By monitoring sewer levels electronically, MSD hopes to prevent creeks from overflowing. It's a program that was developed here. MSD monitors at least 600 sewer sensors now. They expect to install another 400.

"Nowhere besides Cincinnati has all the pieces together and are using it as aggressively as we are," Johnson said.

The system helps meet the demands of a three-part federal consent decree which Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune said is costing the county billions.

"We are being forced to come up with $2.5 billion right now for Phase 2," he said.

At $6 million so far, officials said the smart sewer system saves money and could keep sewer bills from going up.

Although there can still be flooding when area sewers reach capacity, officials say the system can help redirect the flow.

Click here for more information on the project's progress.