‘Smart sewer’ technology leads to nearly $450 million in savings for South Bend | News | Notre Dame News

The city of South Bend will save $ 437 million as part of a revised plan to reduce the number of mixed water overflows in the city to near zero by 2038.

The key?

“Smart Sewer” technology developed by researchers at College of Engineers Used and tested at the University of Notre Dame and South Bend in collaboration with the city.

Michael Lemon, Professor of electrical engineering, and Jeff Talley, former professor of civil engineering and geology, developed the technology to help cities with mixed water systems meet federal water quality standards in a cost-effective manner.

With the support of the IDEA Center in Notre Dame and the state of Indiana, the two later teamed up with the city of South Bend and Luis Montestruque, then a PhD student in Notre Dame, to found EmNet, a startup for intelligent water technology that delivers real time intelligence and optimization for intelligent wastewater applications across North America.

The revised plan is the result of years of negotiation between the city and state and federal regulators, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, and the Department of Justice, and leverages EmNet’s end-to-end wastewater technology invest heavily in infrastructure to achieve the desired environmental benefits for far less than the original cost – $ 276 million versus $ 713 million.

“These savings would not have been possible without the technology and support from the University of Notre Dame,” said South Bend Mayor James Mueller. “Such partnerships between the university and the city bring real results to our residents and move our community forward together.”

Patricia J. Culligan, Professor of Civil Engineering and Matthew H. McCloskey Dean of the College of Engineering, said, “EmNet is a perfect example of how engineering expertise developed in Notre Dame can benefit our South Bend community and others across the country.” . We are very pleased that this technology is paying off in the truest sense of the word for the benefit of so many. “

A mixed water system is one that collects rainwater and sewage in a single pipe and transports it to a facility for treatment and then discharges it into a local waterway – in this case the St. Joseph River, which originates in southern Michigan and flows through South Bend on the way to Lake Michigan.

Such systems work well under normal conditions, especially in older cities, but overflow in heavy rain or when snowmelts and spoil local waterways in violation of the Clean Water Act.

To prevent this from happening, Lemmon and Talley worked with EmNet and South Bend to develop a system that relies on a network of sensors to monitor the flow of rainwater and sewage and, if necessary, divert it to areas of overcapacity within a combined system to reduce this or prevent overflows altogether.

South Bend is one of hundreds of US cities under strict EPA mandates to reduce or eliminate multi-billion dollar combined sewer overflows or face recurring penalties.

As part of its original agreement with the EPA, the city pledged an additional investment of more than $ 700 million to reduce spills to no more than 46.9 million gallons per year by 2031. As part of the new plan, it will invest $ 276 million to eliminate it almost entirely in 2038.

EmNet was acquired by Xylem Solutions in 2018.

Montestruque, now Senior Advisor to Xylem, said at the time: “We are very excited to be joining Xylem. From the beginning, EmNet’s vision was to solve the most pressing wastewater challenges as effectively as possible. Joining Xylem will enable our team to significantly accelerate our progress and expand our mission on a global scale. “

As a collaborative innovation center, the IDEA Center is dedicated to expanding the technological and societal impact of Notre Dame research and innovation with an emphasis on commercialization, entrepreneurship and education.

For more information, visit

Contact: Erin Blasko, Deputy Director for Media Relations, 574-631-4127,