In simple terms, CSOnet means that the City of South Bend has a “smart sewer system” which can react in real time to prevent combined sewer overflows.

CSOnet is a technology which monitors and controls wastewater in real time, through a network of wireless sensors embedded in municipal sewer systems.  This broad network of tiny computers provides 24/7 data on the depth and flow of storm water and sewage in the 500-mile sewer network, including the 36 combined sewer outfall points within the city, essentially providing real-time analysis of available inline storage.  In the process, it has helped South Bend avoid millions of dollars in capital expenditures associated with conventional civil engineering upgrades to prevent combined sewer overflows.

Instead of having to tear up streets and install separated storm and sanitary sewer lines throughout the City, CSOnet recognizes existing capacity in a large header pipe, called the "interceptor line," which carries water from the different service areas to the wastewater treatment plant.  Installed "smart" valves with motorized controls and overflow reservoirs at key points in the system are used by CSOnet to redirect flow into the interceptor line, eliminating the risk of more than 250 million gallons of sewage possibly being discharged into the St. Joseph River.

The City of South Bend has invested about $6 million in CSOnet, including sewer modifications and control valves.  "The environmental benefit we have achieved through CSOnet is equivalent to implementing about $120 million of conventional civil engineering improvements," says Gary Gilot, former City of South Bend Director of the Department of Public Works.

As the largest cyber-physical embedded sensor network in the world, CSOnet and the City of South Bend are getting national and even international attention.  CSOnet is built with sewer optimization technology developed by EmNet LLC, a South Bend – based company.