PEPPERELL -- The town is now better equipped to expand and enhance its sewer-overflow prevention program, thanks to employee participation in a Capacity, Management, Operations and Maintenance, or CMOM, training held recently in Worcester.

Three public-works staff members from Pepperell participated in the training, which was held March 13 at the Hogan Conference Center. The Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association, Pepperell's property and casualty insurance provider, offered the training free to all 12 participating towns as a membership benefit.

The six-hour seminar, designed for municipal wastewater and storm-water managers, as well as maintenance personnel, provided a detailed overview of how to develop and implement a successful CMOM program. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, CMOM is a "flexible, dynamic framework" for local governments to leverage industry best practices to "better manage, operate and maintain collection systems; investigate capacity-constrained areas of the collection system; and respond to sanitary sewer over ow (SSO) events."

SSOs can be caused by a range of issues, including line blockages or breaks, sewer defects, power failure, inadequate design or vandalism. The common, unintentional discharges can contaminate water supplies and potentially back up basements, causing property damage and public health concerns, and resulting in costly insurance claims by both home and business owners.

During the training in Worcester, participants learned about the benefits of establishing a CMOM program as well as its necessary key components, including operation and maintenance planning, financial management, data collection and management, and performance evaluation. The instructor also introduced the EPA's CMOM self-assessment checklist, a tool for assisting municipalities with development and implementation of comprehensive CMOM initiatives.

Training in CMOM programming is particularly important for municipalities, as the EPA has begun including CMOM components in requirements for re-issuing wastewater-treatment facility discharge permits.

Patricia Passariello, technical leader and a registered professional engineer with Weston & Sampson Engineers in Peabody, presented the training on behalf of MIIA. Passariello is a licensed wastewater operator with hands-on experience in wastewater and storm-water collection and treatment facilities.

"The town of Pepperell is pleased that MIIA continues to be innovative in their approach to risk management through education and incentives grants," Town Administrator John Moak said. "This approach has stimulated our management team and staff to participate in programs which decrease premiums and fund initiatives."

Upon completion of the CMOM training and other MIIA risk- and loss-prevention programs, participating towns are eligible to receive insurance premium credits through the MIIA Rewards Programs, thus reducing their annual property and casualty insurance costs.