Summary of The San Mateo/Estero Municipal Improvement District Wastewater Treatment Plant A Work in Progress Issue Has the City of San Mateo implemented the recommendations in the consultant’s 2004 assessment of the San Mateo/Estero Municipal Improvement District Wastewater Treatment Plant?
Summary The City of San Mateo contracted with MWH, a world-wide consulting firm, to analyze the operation and facilities of the wastewater treatment plant. After examining the plant, MWH in 2004 prepared a set of recommendations for improvement. The San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury finds that most of the recommendations of MWH were followed, but that the emergency preparedness plans and plant security procedures need improvement.
San Mateo/Estero Municipal Improvement District Wastewater Treatment Plant A Work in Progress Issue Has the City of San Mateo implemented the recommendations in the consultant’s 2004 assessment of the San Mateo/Estero Municipal Improvement District Wastewater Treatment Plant?
Background The wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) operates under a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) between the City of San Mateo and the Foster City Estero Municipal Improvement District (EMID). Foster City acquired an interest in the wastewater treatment plant to ensure adequate treatment capacity for Foster City in the future. San Mateo currently owns approximately 75% of the treatment plant and EMID owns approximately 25%. The original JPA is dated June 1974, and has been subsequently amended to deal with expansion of the plant and use by each party. San Mateo is designated as the "Lead Agency" as required by the Clean Water Grant Program. As Lead Agency, San Mateo administers the JPA by and through its departments and officers. The City of San Mateo Department of Public Works (SMDPW) is generally responsible for the day-to-day operation of the wastewater treatment plant. Foster City is not involved with the “nuts and bolts” of plant operation. The City of San Mateo hired MWH to analyze and report on the operations and facilities of the WWTP. The consultant’s report was issued in 2004 and included recommendations for operational and facility improvements.
Investigation The San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury (Grand Jury) has conducted an investigation to determine if the consultant’s recommendations have been implemented, and also examined plant emergency preparedness plans. The Grand Jury interviewed City of San Mateo and Foster City personnel responsible for the wastewater treatment plant and visited the plant, where a construction project is currently underway. The Grand Jury reviewed a selection of documents, including Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The WWTP Emergency Response Plan and the Contingency Plan were evaluated using criteria developed and published by the prior (2005-2006) Grand Jury. (See Appendix A)
Findings The City of San Mateo has implemented or is in the process of implementing the following recommendations from the MWH report. The City: • Has installed new hardware for the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system and is upgrading the software. Employee training on the new system is underway. The new system is capable of monitoring plant operations and performing trending analysis. • Has rewritten 15 of 30 standard operating procedures (SOPs) and expects to complete the balance by the end of 2006. The plant operators are required to adhere to the SOPs. • Is developing a formal plan to monitor and improve plant performance. • Has recently updated the written job descriptions for each position. •
Is developing a plan to encourage plant operators to take additional training courses and to obtain higher ratings.
• Has reassigned responsibility for preventive maintenance; work that was formerly done by the maintenance staff is now done by the operating staff. SMDPW has implemented automated tracking of maintenance work orders, and the computer system will soon start generating preventative maintenance work orders. • Has formalized shift-to-shift communication; shift supervisors meet for 20 minutes at shift change. Additionally, SMPWD has implemented monthly informational meetings which have considerably improved communication. • Has digitized all relevant documents (e.g., monthly reports, lab results, SOPs, etc.) and made the reports available online.
• Will address operational responsibility for the Dale Avenue Pump Station after construction of the two new digesters is completed in Spring 2007. • Has hired a consultant to address the 20-year plan for capital improvements; however, a replacement schedule for existing capital equipment does not yet exist. SMDPW is preparing a list of critical equipment. The MWH report also recommended that plant security be improved. Specifically, the report recommended “additional access controls and signage around the front gate of the WWTP in order to control access to the facility and assist visitors in finding the main office. Perimeter fencing should also be reviewed and repaired on a routine basis to minimize unauthorized access to the facility.” SMDPW has not implemented this recommendation. Other security issues noted by the Grand Jury are: •
The attitude of those responsible for the operation of the plant is “we don’t have a security problem, nothing has ever happened.”
The main gate is normally open during the day and signs instruct visitors to check in at the office. The route to the office is tortuous and not well marked.
The Grand Jury was told that plant security will be evaluated when the current construction projects are completed.
SMDWP stated that closed circuit TV is one of the techniques that will be considered to improve perimeter security.
The Grand Jury observed that two of the three gates in the perimeter fence are substantially compromised. There is a 10-inch gap below one gate and an 11-inch gap in the fencing at the other; a child or an adult could easily enter the plant at either location.
The Grand Jury visited one other wastewater treatment plant in the County and found that facility to be far more secure than the San Mateo/EMID plant. To wit, in the other treatment plant: o The main entrance gate is kept closed. An intercom at the gate allows the visitor to contact the office, after which the gate may be opened remotely. o The perimeter fencing is secure and properly maintained. o The facility is protected by an alarm system at night. o Plant operators appreciate the need for a secure environment and appear to actively monitor the facility.
o The operators of this facility plan to add closed circuit TV surveillance to their SCADA system. The Grand Jury evaluated the WWTP Emergency Response Plan and the Contingency Plan. For the purposes of this evaluation, credit was given if either of these plans addressed the required critical elements. The score awarded to the combined plans is 8 out of a possible 22. The evaluation criteria and the areas in which the plans are deficient are detailed in Appendices A and B.
Conclusions San Mateo DPW has adopted, implemented, or is in the process of implementing, many of the recommendations in the MWH report. San Mateo DPW has not made plant security a high priority issue and significant deficiencies are evident. While the current construction project complicates the perimeter security problem, it does not lessen the need for improved security. The purpose of the fencing is to keep unauthorized persons from entering the facility. This is especially important during a construction project where persons could be injured on the property. The current state of disrepair of the perimeter fencing allows unauthorized access to the property which creates a potential danger to the public and liability exposure to the JPA. The WWTP Emergency Response Plan is deficient. Each of the following sections of the plan needs improvement: Purpose and Scope, Staff Roles and Responsibilities, Evacuation Procedures and Post-Emergency Plans. The Plan also fails to address the following five elements required in a comprehensive plan: SEMS/ICS Compliance, Decision Making Guidelines, Personnel Training Plan, Test & Update Training Plan and Plans for Coordinating with other Agencies.
Recommendations The Grand Jury recommends that the San Mateo City Council, the Foster City City Council, and their respective Joint Powers Authority that governs the waste water treatment facility: 1. Make plant security a high priority and educate the staff on the need for increased awareness of and attention to physical security. 2. Upgrade the physical security of the WWTP. 3. Create and implement a comprehensive and effective emergency response plan.
Appendix A Criteria for Evaluating Disaster Preparedness Plans The 2005-2006 Grand Jury Report titled “Disaster Preparedness in SamTrans, Environmental Services, and Public Works” explains the process and criteria developed to evaluate Disaster Preparedness Plans. These criteria are: •
Purpose and Scope
Staff Roles and Responsibilities
Emergency Contacts and Phone Numbers
Guidelines for Decision Makers
Specific Emergency Procedures
Evacuation and Shelter Plans
Personnel Training Plan
Exercise and Update Plan
Plans for Coordinating with other Agencies and Departments Post-Emergency Plans
Describes what the plan is designed to accomplish and who is responsible. Complies with SEMS requirements as outlined in the State Emergency Planning Guide for Local Government. (SEMS compliant plans are required to receive state and federal disaster relief funds.) Describes the roles and responsibilities of each staff member. Describes the emergency staff chain of command and whom to call under what circumstances. Provides clear steps to follow in making decisions during an emergency. Contains instructions covering a list of potential emergencies. Contains instructions for evacuation and shelter during an emergency. Defines plans for training personnel with specific topics and types of training. Describes the frequency of training exercises and how the results of those exercises are used to improve the plan. Describes procedures for coordinating with other agencies during an emergency. Defines plans to deal with postemergency issues and the return to normal operations.
Appendix B Evaluation of the WWTP Emergency Response and Contingency Plan The Grand Jury has evaluated the WWTP Emergency Response Plan and Contingency Plan. For the purposes of this evaluation, credit is given if either of these Plans addressed the required critical elements. The chart below shows the results of this evaluation. A score of 0 indicates that an element is not included in the plan. A score of 1 indicates that the treatment of an element is incomplete or unclear. A score of 2 is given if the treatment of an element is complete and clear.