Sanitation District No. 1 (SD1) has managed Northern Kentucky’s wastewater and stormwater for more than 70 years, and dedicates itself to keeping its rivers clean. Every day, SD1 cleans 37 million gallons of water and has a network of over 2,000 miles of pipe below ground. SD1 serves a population of 115,000 customer accounts.
Sarah Griffith, Laboratory and Industrial Pretreatment Manager, oversees the laboratory and manages the industrial pretreatment and FOG programs at SD1. In the lab, the team performs 40,000 analyses per year, 7 days a week. On the pretreatment side, the team oversees, inspects, and samples 55 industrial users in the service area, and also permits and inspects 200 food service establishments (FSEs) under the FOG Program. SD1 has the second largest pretreatment program in Kentucky.
After using Linko for several years, a newly developed environmental compliance module was released by the computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) that many departments within SD1 used for the scheduling and tracking of work. As an exercise in due diligence, the industrial pretreatment and FOG program teams attempted to move to this new module, as it seemed like a practical decision for the organization.
Although the CMMS was a very robust and comprehensive program for other teams within the organization, it quickly became apparent that the CMMS’ compliance capabilities were not advanced enough to manage SD1’s pretreatment and FOG programs.
“The CMMS worked to the extent that you can handle industries as assets and track utilization of time,” explained Sarah Griffith. “However, it was just not able to handle compliance, and compliance is a big part of what we do.”
In order to not lose Linko’s purpose-built compliance capabilities, SD1 decided not to fully move away from Linko for their pretreatment and FOG program management. “To be honest, it was easy to stay with Linko, and it wasn’t hard to justify to our executives,” explained Sarah Griffith. “Staff members were still naturally wanting to use Linko and it was already so much easier to perform the functions we needed in Linko versus in our CMMS.”
In many ways, temporarily moving to a CMMS helped SD1 realize the value of purpose-built software. “We spent a lot of energy trying to make the CMMS work for something it wasn’t made for, especially when we already had a solution that worked,” explained Sarah Griffith. “In some sense, it was good for us to become familiar with the limitations of our CMMS, but at the end of the day, Linko’s compliance capabilities aren’t to be found anywhere else. Unlike the CMMS, where pretreatment was an afterthought, Linko was purpose-built to manage that type of program.”
“Pretreatment programs involve a lot of data, compliance is complex, and regulations do change. The Linko software keeps up with all of that.”
When SD1 decided to return to Linko, they also chose to move to Linko’s hosted environment. “From my experience with different types of software, I’ve found that hosted environments generally work better for specialty software,” explained Sarah Griffith.
The transition from on premise to hosted was an easy process for SD1. “Linko Cloud is a lot more simple than I thought it would be, and since we went live two years ago, we have found the whole process of going hosted and the access to the hosted tools amazingly seamless,” she commented. “It looks slightly different, but I didn’t have to relearn anything!”
SD1 has also seen enormous time and resources savings by using Linko’s LabSync. “It’s extraordinarily efficient,” remarked Sarah Griffith. “The automation of the lab data transfer piece is fantastic. We run LabSync nightly, so each morning new data are ready to review from our LIMS. The program alerts us to possible compliance issues, which gives us a great preliminary check of compliance. It’s comparable to having a second set of eyes check for compliance, but on the front end. We then can review those possible issues and move forward with enforcement as needed, resulting in amazing time savings.
“I’d say that it saves us 30 minutes per event, per industry. This is the module of Linko that we use the most, and with everything so automated, we eliminate redundancy and a lot of manual work.”
Sarah also commented that LabSync allows SD1 to better keep up with the changing regulatory environment. “Regulations, and how regulations are interpreted, change over time,” she explained. “Instead of having to create a make-shift time period against which to check compliance, Compliance Assistant and LabSync are preloaded with nearly all weekly definitions, making compliance easier to determine. Also, Linko’s Compliance Assistant is very capable of determining compliance against rolling quarters, and can determine significant non-compliance issues. Other programs we’ve tried cannot do this well or at all.”
SD1 has also seen significant benefit from Linko’s reporting capabilities.
“All of our reporting comes through Linko,” explained Sarah Griffith. “I don’t know how we could do our reporting activities without it, especially considering how much time we spend in Linko working on reporting. Even just the ability to extract all of the events, site visits, sampling events, etc. from one location has saved us a lot of time.”
In addition, SD1’s state report often changes slightly every year, but they have seen significant time savings by being able to query data to answer the questions required for the reports with Linko, as opposed to having to spend hours combing through results manually.
Sarah Griffith also noted the benefits of using standardized permit templates with Linko Permit Writer. Permit Writer has allowed SD1 to establish standard permits and easily tweak them as needed. “The Permit Writer functionality has been a great tool for keeping permits standard, especially when changes occur and we have to reissue all 55 industry permits at the same time. It’s really nice to be able to pull all the pieces together and create all of the permits at once.”
SD1 has taken advantage of the personalized training offered by the Linko team, which comes highly recommended by Sarah Griffith. “We had a trainer conduct some one-on-one video training for our new staff. We also had some of our more experienced staff, who’ve used Linko for years, sit in as well for refresher training. I was surprised how much everyone, even the established pretreatment folks, learned from the training, even when it was geared towards new people. We all learned something, and I highly recommend Linko’s training to everybody.”
“At the end of the day, if you aren’t familiar with pretreatment, you would think that it’s just comparing a number against the limit. If that were the case, Excel would work. But, regulations change, interpretations change, and Linko keeps up with that. With Linko, you can keep up with everything.”
Sarah Griffith Laboratory & Industrial Pretreatment Manager Sanitation District No. 1