SOCWA’s Storm Stories: Two Storms, Two Reminders

How SOCWA weathered the Storm

The recent storms in December and January served as good reminders for two key wastewater functions: emergency preparedness and protecting our storm drains.

Emergency & Crisis Planning

Emergency preparedness is central to SOCWA’s operations. Heavy rains can inundate our three treatment plants. Left unchecked, this would lead to spills and environmental harm. SOCWA’s Coastal Treatment Plant in Aliso and Wood Canyons is particularly susceptible to weather-induced events.  In fact, early December storms required a Red Status – full evacuation of the plant due to extremely dangerous conditions.  But our crews are experts and are well trained in how to adapt to these external events. In this particular scenario, the Emergency Operations Center – or EOC – was established at the Regional Treatment Plant. Operations and flows were monitored remotely and crews returned as soon as it was safe. SOCWA’s leadership is grateful for the work put in by the Operations Department Team under the leadership of Jim Burror, SOCWA’s Director of Operations.

Separate Storm Drain Systems

Regional sewer systems across California are not designed to hold the volume of water created by rain or storm events. These flows are handled by the separate storm drain system. Spills and sewer line backups can occur if storm water is routed to sewer system. There are several methods that our local agencies to can use help prevent this challenge:

  • Briefing of emergency response personnel on steps to prevent the public or responders from popping manholes in flooded areas
  • Sealing manhole covers to avoid seepage during storms, especially in low-lying areas
  • Re-inspecting areas where you have sealed manhole covers in the past, especially in low-lying areas
  • Using watertight manholes in areas prone to flooding or standing water
  • Providing customer information where possible requesting that private clean-outs be checked to ensure proper caps are present

Thanks to the hard work from our member agencies, this regional collaboration helps protect our infrastructure and beaches from spills during storm events.



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