Environmental Management System
ISO 14001 Certification
Protecting and improving the environment—particularly our water resources—is an important part of our mission.
In order to effectively manage the impact of our services on the environment, Charleston Water System has subscribed to a voluntary standard created by the International Organization for Standardization, or ISO.
ISO was founded after World War II to standardize equipment, manufacturing, and construction practices. Since then, ISO has grown to include more than 8,000 different standards for everything from quality control to environmental management.
In 1999, Charleston Water System became the first public water or wastewater utility in the nation to become certified under the ISO 14001 standard for environmental management. This certification requires the implementation of an Environmental Management System, or EMS, which is a set of standards that provide a framework for how to identify and control environmental impacts, both positive and negative.
Our Environmental Management System (EMS) provides a framework for managing everying from standard operating procedures to record-keeping. Benefits of implementing an EMS and earning ISO 14001 certification include:
- Prevents pollution and improves the environment
- Helps ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations
- Reduces hazard liability
- Increases cost effectiveness and competitiveness
- Promotes technological advances
- Affirms our committment to environmental protection to our ratepayers and other stakeholders.
Charleston Water System's commitment to ISO 14001 ensures that our customers receive safe and reliable water and sewer services. The focus of ISO 14001 is to ensure that all processes related to the environment are identified, managed, and reviewed on a routine basis.
For more information about our EMS program, send us an e-mail.
Environmental Policy Statement
Charleston Water System is committed to the improvement of the environment for present and future generations through:
- The treatment and delivery of safe potable water.
- The collection, treatment, and proper disposal of wastewater.
- The responsible impact of its activities, products and services on the environment.
- Continual environmental improvement and the prevention of pollution.
- Compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws, regulations, statutes and other environmentally related requirements to which the organization subscribes.
- The establishment of environmental objectives and targets that are periodically reviewed to ensure success.
- Communication of its Environmental Management System to Charleston Water System associates and to other interested parties.
Charleston Water System will establish and maintain an Environmental Management System (EMS) that corresponds to the ISO 14001 Standard and the mission, vision, strategic business plan and core values adopted by Charleston Water System.
A key part of an Environmental Management System is identifying and then managing the impacts our operations have on the environment. These impacts are called aspects, and they include everything from the disposal of paper waste to the proper use of water treatment chemicals.
While we manage many environmental aspects, some have a greater potential for substantially impacting the environment, and these are called significant aspects.
Charleston Water evaluates our environmental aspects annually in accordance with our Environmental Management System (EMS). This helps ensure we have adequate control methods to prevent adverse impacts to the environment.
Our 2013 environmental aspects are listed below by department. For more information about our environmental aspects or our EMS program please contact the Executive Office at (843) 727-6856.
2013 Significant Environmental Aspects
||Reducing fuel usage and emissions helps Charleston Water System control costs and reduce our impact on the environment. Our meter readers and technicians receive training on Charleston Water's vehicle policies to mitigate the environmental impacts of fuel usage.
|Capturing Best Practices
||Identifying, sharing, and implementing best practices in all areas of our operations is key to protecting the environment and providing the best possible service. Charleston Water System's 2013 - 2017 Strategic Plan includes a goal to develop a process for identifying and implementing best practices.
|Performance Indicators - Data Use
||Charleston Water System uses data to demonstrate regulatory compliance, manage processes, and make decisions. To improve upon data-based decision making throughout the organization, we are in the process of evaluating ways to improve our processes for collecting, storing, sharing, and analyzing data associated with key performance indicators. This is also a goal in our 2013 - 2017 Strategic Plan.
|Solids Handling and Disposal, NPDES Discharge
||Hanahan Water Treatment Plant
||Effective and efficient removal of solids—the material taken out of the water during treatment—is an important part of the treatment process. These solids are de-watered and trucked to a landfill for disposal, and the excess water is discharged back into the environment. Such discharges are regulated by SC DHEC under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) to protect water quality.
Charleston Water System uses Standard Operating Instructions and real-time process monitoring to ensure effective treatment and regulatory compliance.
|Infrastructure Integrity: Infrastructure Rehabilitation
||Rehabilitating aging water infrastructure is necessary to ensure reliable service and water quality. Charleston Water System prioritizes infrastructure upgrades based on need, regulatory requirements, and hydraulic modeling.
|Infiltration and Inflow (I&I)
Groundwater that leaches into Charleston Water System's wastewater collection system is called infiltration and storm water that finds its way into the collection system is called inflow.
This excess water consumes the hydraulic capacity of wastewater collection mains, pump stations, and treatment plants, resulting in higher treatment costs and capital expenditures to increase the size of these facilities.
In extreme cases, infiltration and inflow can cause sewer system overflows, which occur when rainwater floods a sewer line and causes diluted wastewater to overflow sewer manholes. To help prevent such overflows, Charleston Water System has developed detailed standard operating instructions for identifying and removing sources of infiltration and inflow. Charleston Water System crews can identify these sources—cracked manholes, improper connections to the sewer system, etc., through a number of methods, including video inspections, smoke testing, and dye testing.
|Wastewater Tunnel Operations
A system of deep tunnels carries wastewater to the Plum Island plant for treatment. The tunnel system was built in the early 1970s and has deteriorated over time due to the corrosive nature of wastewater.
Over the last ten years, CWS has replaced the tunnel system in phases. The last phase is the West Ashley Tunnel Replacement, which is now underway.
The tunnel replacement project and tunnel operations are essential to protecting the environment and public health. If not replaced, the tunnel is at risk of failure, which could result in sewer overflows that would negatively impact the environment.
|Solids Handling – Dewatering Holding Tank and Blower
||Removing solids from influent wastewater is an important part of the treatment process. Once removed, these solids are dewatered and transported to a landfill for disposal. The solids handling process is controlled by standard operating instructions.
|Refueling System - Fuel Storage, Handling, and Usage
||With a fleet of more than 250 vehicles and construction equipment, ensuring proper storage and handling of fuel, as well as reducing fuel usage is important not only to minimizing cost, but also to reducing our impact on the environment. The Fleet Department has Standard Operating Instructions for fuel island operations and detecting fuel leaks.