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Sweeper Pickup Efficiency Testing Conducted for Glendale and Burbank California Officials

by Ranger Kidwell-Ross
posted August 2011

Larry Walker Associates The push for a sweeping industry-wide testing protocol received a boost via a recent round of testing financed by Glendale and Burbank, California officials. The principal organization hired to coordinate the process was Larry Walker Associates.

In turn, that company subcontracted with noted sweeper testing authority, Roger Sutherland, Principal Water Resources Engineer with AMEC Environment And Infrastructure, Inc., to design and implement the test.

Quick Link to Audio
Interview With Sutherland

Goes to bottom of page where audio is located.

The regulatory driver for this testing is a Total Daily Maximum Load (TMDL) for the Los Angeles River that requires the Cities to reduce metals' concentrations in storm water.

The Cities of Burbank and Glendale have developed an Implementation Plan to comply with these requirements, which includes examining if modifying existing street sweeping programs may be the most cost-effective way to achieve compliance with the TMDL. Such modifications may include the use of different sweeper models based upon pickup efficiency.

In addition to those two jurisdictions, many others in California will be examining the test results in order to determine if sweeping enhancements also make sense for them. The data will assist Burbank and Glendale, as well as other communities, with their future sweeper buying decisions. WorldSweeper has agreed to publicize this testing process, as well as to assist in interpreting the importance and context of the test results.

Overview of Sweeper Testing Process

It has become widely recognized that the Southern California Air Quality Management District's (AQMD) so called 'PM-10 Compliance' pass/fail sweeper testing process no longer has value since every make and model of sweeper ever tested has been given a passing grade. Plus, that test emphasized air quality, not the water quality issues that are of more widespread concern throughout the US. In addition, the actual pick-up performance data was not available even to the test subjects themselves.

The California cities of Burbank and Glendale are funding an empirical testing process on their current street sweepers in order to determine the pickup efficiency of the machines currently in their fleet. This information will allow LWA and AMEC to assess the metals reductions in storm water that their existing sweeping programs are achieving.

The City sweeper testing was conducted in mid-August, 2011, on the current, older sweeper models in the two Cities' respective fleets. It is anticipated that testing these models will demonstrate the existing pickup performance of the machines, as well as the ability of current sweeper models to remove metals from City streets.

The concept for testing current sweepers was to establish baseline numbers for the pollutant removal levels of the older sweepers that have been in their respective fleets. These are the machines that were in service when the water quality data used to establish the TMDL were collected.

The testing project is being done to determine whether enhancing or improving the street sweeping operations of these two communities may allow them to achieve TMDL compliance for metals. Possible modifications include:

  • the purchase of more efficient makes/models of sweeper(s), increase frequency of sweeping,
  • lower sweeping speed,
  • have greater enforcement of regulations that allow the sweepers to get to the curbline

Although all U.S. sweeper manufacturers were contacted and invited to provide new sweepers for testing in September, as of the time this was written in late August, 2011, none had chosen to take part in the testing. Since the tests carried a price tag of about $7,000, it is unknown whether the reluctance is due to cost or a preference not to be on record in terms of test results.

Initially, each City planned to test two sweepers from its existing fleet. The sweepers that were tested by Burbank were an in-service Schwarze M6000 mechanical broom sweeper and an 8-year-old Schwarze A7000 regenerative air sweeper.

The sweepers tested by Glendale were an Elgin Broom Bear and an Allianz mechanical broom sweeper. Because Glendale has recently purchased a new Elgin Crosswind, that was tested, as well. The idea was that the new Crosswind would provide at least one existing baseline for a new sweeper, since no manufacturers had signed up to test their new sweeper models.

As a result of a street dirt sampling process conducted by Glendale and Burbank officials, the test protocol was slightly different than the one Sutherland designed and then performed in July of 2008 for the Elgin Sweeper Company. When testing for Elgin, Sutherland performed tests on Elgin's Whirlwind, Crosswind and Eagle models.

The complete results of that testing, which have been widely publicized, are available at this URL: www.worldsweeper.com/Street/Studies/SutherlandStormwater1.11.html

When it comes to street sweeping being offered a 'bigger piece of the pollution abatement pie,' the stakes are huge. That's because the alternatives to meet TMDL requirements for metals are to either treat storm water or retrofit the urban environment with LID practices.

All such solutions are many times more expensive than the cost of even very frequent street sweeping. Any sweepers that are shown to have high pickup efficiencies will certainly be 'on the radar' of jurisdictions in the LA Metro and Southern California since they will be seen as a viable BMP reduction/mitigation technique for storm water runoff pollution.

Even if it is shown that a significant increase in sweeping frequency, slower sweeping speeds and greater enforcement of parking restrictions are required for addressing required TMDL goals, sweeping would remain a far more cost-effective solution than virtually any other available options. Realistically, every MS4 jurisdiction in the US that is under TMDL mandates should have interest in the test and study results.

More information will be published later once the results of the testing are in. However, linked below we have an onsite interview with Roger Sutherland conducted on the last day of actual testing. In it, he explains the testing protocol more thoroughly, as well as offers his anecdotal take on the results of the testing so far.

Note: To play the interview, click this link or on the small triangle inside the circle you see to the left. If you have any trouble accessing this audio, please let us know.

Editor's Note: If you have more information about this story, please let us know. If appropriate, we'll add it to the bottom of this page.


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