News from Mission Communications for the Water and Wastewater Professional
Issue 11, Summer 2013
5,500 Years of Manhole History
Be Prepared for Critical Events with the New Manhole Monitor
Enhanced Rainfall Calendar Improves Usability
WIFIA Offers Hope to U.S. Utilities


Microsoft has often asked why manhole covers are round during job interviews. These are some of the answers they received:

 Human beings have a roughly circular cross-section.


It is easier to dig a circular hole.


Round castings are easier to manufacture using a lathe.


 Molten steel flows into a round mold better than one with sharp corners.    


A circle offsets the straight lines of a city.


Read more about manholes in the article to the right,
5,500 Years of Manhole History.
Source: blogs.msdn.com


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July 9-11  

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July 14-17 

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August 27-29   

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June 26

Week 4: Web Portal II - Supergraph, Reporting, Volumetric Flow and Advanced Topics

July 10

Week 2: Hardware, Instrumentation and Installation


July 17

 Week 3: Web Portal I - Notification and Unit Setup Options

July 24

Week 4: Web Portal II - Supergraph, Reporting, Volumetric Flow and Advanced Topics


July 31

Week 5: Special Topics 


August 7

 Week 1: Survey of Features  


 August 14

Week 2: Hardware, Instrumentation and Installation


August 21

Week 3: Web Portal I - Notification and Unit Setup Options

August 28

 Week 4: Web Portal II - Supergraph, Reporting, Volumetric Flow and Advanced Topics


 September 11

Week 2: Hardware, Instrumentation and Installation


September 18 

Week 3: Web Portal I - Notification and Unit Setup Options
























































































































5,500 Years of Manhole History       

Manholes have been a vital part of sewer systems around the world since 3500 B.C. Roman manhole covers were typically slabs of stone or pieces of wood to cover ditches carrying waste. Many early manholes were called lamp holes because they provided inspection points to view the flow of sewage in the main. The 18th century brought major redesigns in sewage systems with the use of more efficient materials and installation techniques.

2007: Orbit uses a manhole cover for their well-known "Dirty Mouth" campaign.


Early 1900s: Drawings of pipe and brick lamp poles. Source: www.sewerhistory.org.

The Designing, Construction, and Maintenance of Sewerage Systems, by H. Prescott Folwell, 1901.


The manhole cover underwent a fundamental design change in the 1870s, with the filing of many patents in the U.S. Daniel H. Fernald patented the "sewer catch basin cover" or "round" manhole cover in 1875. It was designed for a sewer chimney and featured an annular or circular shape with flanges. Fernald said he  wanted to produce a "neat and ornamental cover for sewer chimneys" that supported and protected the brick work of the chimney and offered a "ready means of access thereto for the water." A later version of this circular cover was designed by Thomas P. Greger in 1894. It featured a recessed section filled with asphalt or other paving material.

A manhole in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin shown during and after construction, circa 1918. Source: www.sewerhistory.org.

W. G. Kirchoffer, "Novel Sewerage System and Sewage Treatment Plant at Mt. Horeb, Wis.," Municipal and County Engineering, Volume LV, No. 2 (August 1918), p. 61.


As the manhole changed, so did its design specifications. Europe eventually adopted a standard in the 19th century requiring them to accommodate a man of average size. They were positioned close to the edge of the street and were typically serviced by a ladder or rope. The tops of these manholes were capped with iron rims and covers with as many ventilation holes as possible. Most of them were constructed with bricks or concrete blocks that were tapered to create a larger area at the bottom.  


Throughout the last several centuries, the manhole and cover have traditionally remained round - and for good reason. A circular structure is stronger and can displace ground pressure more efficiently than a square or rectangular shape. Unlike a square cover, it is impossible for a round cover to fall into a manhole. Round covers are also easier to transport than triangles or square shaped covers.  


Folgers grabs the attention of onlookers by placing a coffee cup decal over a manhole cover that reads "Hey, City That Never Sleeps. Wake Up." 

Manholes offer easy access to

underground utilities including sewers, storm drains, electricity, gas and water lines. They are common to our urban areas and are found in streets, sidewalks and environmentally sensitive areas. They offer ventilation and access to sewers for inspection, cleaning and maintenance. The size of a typical manhole cover ranges from 24-26 inches.  


Patterns on manhole covers assist in traction as cars drive over them. Cleverly decorated manhole covers are often a focal point in major cities. They also offer a way for municipalities to subsidize their infrastructure with manhole cover advertising by private companies.


Many utilities install secure manhole covers to prevent illegal dumping. McGard sells a composite cover with a locking device and special key to prevent unauthorized manhole access.  


The manhole as we know it will continue to evolve with a host of improvements that include more efficient and eco-friendly materials. Engineers hope these advances will promote sustainability as we continue to rebuild our nation's water/wastewater infrastructure.  


Be Prepared for Critical Events with
the New Manhole Monitor

Sewer spills not only damage property and the environment, but they also create health hazards and lead to state and federal penalties. Many variables cause disruptions in sewer systems such as deteriorating infrastructure, illegal dumping and the disposal of fats, oils and greases.


Overflow damage increases when sewer disturbances remain undetected. Problems hidden in underground pipes and manholes are often discovered after an overflow has already occurred. These undiscovered spills have a monumental impact.


A heavy rainfall in DeKalb County, Georgia earlier this year caused an undetected overflow to release over 51,000 gallons of effluent. An overflowing manhole went undiscovered until a local resident reported it. Utility workers were not able to contain the spill until the next day. Uncontrolled overflows have been a problem for the DeKalb County utility for the past several years. The local sewer system has launched a $1 billion overhaul to mitigate the problem.


Click the data sheet above to download it.

A proactive sewer monitoring program is a viable way to prevent the financial and environmental impacts caused by sewer spills. The new Manhole Monitor provides immediate alarms and reporting to inform personnel of high level and surcharge conditions in manholes. Undetected problems can be discovered and fixed with timely data and alarms delivered by real-time monitoring devices. These immediate notifications allow personnel to assess critical situations and prevent spills from occurring. Monitoring devices can be placed in areas prone to floods and spills and areas that have the biggest impact on the overall system. They can also be installed near boundary areas such as rivers, lakes and jurisdiction borders. 


The Manhole Monitor is the third and most significant update to our in-sewer level alarm device. New features include:

  • Rugged, all-metal waterproof enclosure built to withstand harsh environments 
  • Efficient circuitry for low power consumption
  • Field-replaceable battery
  • Quick connecting antenna and float terminations for fast installation
  • Pushbutton switch to navigate the LCD display for simple startup
  • Versatile mounting bracket with cable management  


"The Manhole Monitor is a major advance for us. The device is purpose-built to be more efficient and user-friendly," explained Forrest Robinson, President of Mission Communications. "We designed it from the operator's perspective and included the features that utilities need to avoid spills effectively. We are proud to announce its release."    


Join us for the next Week 2: Hardware, Instrumentation and Installation webinar on July 10 at 2:00 EST to learn more about the Manhole Monitor! Click here to register.



Enhanced Rainfall Calendar Improves Usability

Rainfall measurement is important for sustainable management of our nation's drinking water. Trending data gives municipalities a reliable way to predict flood conditions. This also helps utilities monitor weather patterns and climate change as they plan infrastructure improvements. Earlier this year, the engineers of Mission enhanced the rainfall data calendar with an improved viewing experience and new filter options.   


Every Mission user has access to rainfall or gauged precipitation data. Rainfall data can be viewed in a table, graph or calendar on the web portal. It can also be compared with pump runtimes and downloaded in spreadsheet format.  



The calendar's new user-friendly interface allows you to view the data in monthly, weekly and hourly intervals. When rainfall is recorded, the amount of rainfall is displayed along with an icon of a rain cloud for quick identification of rainfall events. Days with no rainfall display an icon of a sun and 0.00 in.   


Rainfall is measured with a rain gauge or NOAA/NWS data. To setup a rain gauge, you will need to: 

  1. Setup the pulse board input on your web portal under Unit Maint or call technical support for assistance. 
  2. Select the rain gauge for the device by going to Setup > Unit Maint > Edit device >  Edit Rainfall Site section.  


Rainfall information is useful for inflow/infiltration studies, flood condition monitoring and general rainfall analysis. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) encourages rainfall measurements in a number of its policies to promote long-term sustainability of our nation's water resources.  


WIFIA Offers Hope to U.S. Utilities

It is no secret that our nation's utilities and municipalities suffer from a declining infrastructure. This gradual deterioration has required increased investment to rehabilitate and rebuild a failing system. A dwindling tax base has left many utilities overburdened and unable to make essential repairs.


The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority (WIFIA) was created this year by the Senate to circumvent America's trillion dollar infrastructure shortfall. WIFIA is a pilot program included in the Water Resources Development Act of 2013 (WRDA) (S. 601). The WRDA passed by a Senate vote of 83-14 in early May and is now awaiting final ratification from the House of Representatives. If WIFIA wins House approval as a part of the WRDA, it could streamline project approvals, speed infrastructure construction and reduce costs to local utilities.  


WIFIA was developed to approve loans or loan guarantees for eligible water projects through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (COE). It is also designed to enhance the effectiveness of state-revolving funds (SRFs). Eligible projects include pipe replacement or rehabilitation, new water supply facilities and desalination plants. The WRDA is intended to increase economic development by offering low interest loans for water infrastructure improvement. The bipartisan legislation also authorizes the COE Civil Works department to implement flood control and wetland restoration.


WRDA proponents say the development act is much more than a cash infusion for utilities in need of easy access to financial resources. It contains a "Buy American" Merkley/Brown amendment that will create jobs in sectors such as steel, manufacturing and construction. This amendment requires American-made iron, steel and manufactured goods be used in all WIFIA-financed projects whenever they are available and competitively priced. Proponents insist this additional provision will help jump start the American economy.


Click the video to watch Sen. Vitter's introduction of the WRDA to the Senate.

"We are delighted to see the Senate take the bill to final passage," said American Water Works Association (AWWA) Executive Director David LaFrance. "We commend Sen. Barbara Boxer and Sen. David Vitter for working together in a bipartisan manner on this critical legislation. Now our commitment turns to the House, in the hopes the chamber will pass a similar bill this year."


WIFIA has won overwhelming support by the AWWA and the Water Environment Federation (WEF). The two groups attended an event in Washington, D.C. in April to meet with Congress on key issues impacting America's water and wastewater industries. AWWA calls WIFIA a "huge step forward." Both groups agree that WIFIA will help utilities repair critical infrastructure at a lower overall cost to communities. Eligible projects are financed at U.S. Treasury rates with a minimum project size of $50 million. AWWA and WEF urge broad support as the bill goes before the House.


According to AWWA, "The federal government can play an important role in facilitating increased local spending on infrastructure by lowering the cost of capital for water and wastewater projects. Lowering the cost of borrowing for water and wastewater projects represents an important way to leverage local funding and help America rebuild its aging water infrastructure."

"Rivers are roads which move, and which carry us whither we desire to go." -Blaise Pascal 
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