SAWS partners with UTSA Engineering to find cost-effective sewer management solutions

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(Nov. 4, 2013) -- Beginning this fall, UTSA civil and environmental engineering professor and Water Institute of Texas (WIT) researcher Marcio Giacomoni will embark on a two-year pilot project to partner with San Antonio Water System (SAWS) in identifying reliable and cost effective solutions to reduce the occurrence of capacity-related sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) in San Antonio.

An SSO is an unpermitted discharge of untreated sewage into the environment from the sewer collection system before reaching the wastewater treatment plant.

UTSA's study will use computer modeling to understand the behaviors of one area of San Antonio's sewer system experiencing overflows because of capacity constraints during heavy rains.

Giacomoni will use simulation and optimization algorithms to develop a model to duplicate the sewer system in this area.

"The benefit of using optimization modeling is that it allows us to find new and better solutions based on a mathematical approach rather than engineering design from empirical analysis," said Giacomoni. "We hope this partnership will help create a culture of using optimization as an industry standard with SAWS leading the way."

UTSA's two-year project will include three workshops for SAWS employees in their optimization model. At the end of the project, SAWS will determine the feasibility of the approach for the city's entire 5,000-mile system.

"SAWS is a national leader in the industry for its novel conservation efforts and proactive water management planning," said Tom Papagiannakis, interim WIT director. "We are pleased to be able to contribute our top-tier research capabilities to support this dynamic community partner."

WIT was formed in 2012 to promote collaboration between nearly three dozen UTSA researchers who are studying water-related issues. Scholars in the institute provide data, information, and technology and policy solutions to decision makers and companies developing short- and long-term water sustainability strategies.

In 2009, UTSA, SAWS, CPS Energy and the Southwest Research Institute partnered to form the Energy Research Alliance of San Antonio and since then have collaborated together to define and implement new and alternative strategies for the development of energy technology.

>> Learn more at the UTSA College of Engineering and the Water Institute of Texas websites.

Since 1992, San Antonio Water System has been a leader in innovative water management strategies, making San Antonio water's most resourceful city. Water and wastewater services are provided to more than one million consumers in the San Antonio region. For more information, visit the San Antonio Water System website.