Sewer TV – Remote cameras used to prevent major backups in Des Moines sanitary sewer system
Des Moines, Iowa – Wednesday July 7, 2021 – Under Des Moines Streets, approximately 1,000 miles of sanitary sewer lines constantly carry wastewater from residents and businesses across the city for treatment. This year, the Des Moines Public Works Department is moving forward with an initiative to use cameras to document the vast network to get a head start on maintaining this critical infrastructure.
“We are really looking to proactively address potential hazards in our sanitary sewer system to avoid more costly problems,” said Jonathan Gano, director of public works. “This is a massive effort that is going to take some time, but one that should pay off in how we can effectively protect our sanitary sewer system. “
Sanitary sewer system “television” involves a team sending a remote camera down the sewer and assessing, describing and recording the location of any faults found. Another team member also visually inspects and assesses each of the surface access points to help City employees prioritize proactive repairs.
“Historically, we have dealt with problems in a reactive manner,” said Patrick Beane, administrator of the Clean Water program. “When we have a problem, we’ll fix it and put the line back into service. These repairs are usually much more expensive than getting the job done before a backup or a major problem becomes apparent.”
To speed up the process, Des Moines Public Works has increased its own television systems with a contractor, Equix, which is currently doing television work throughout the city. Beane estimates that about 10% or about 100 miles of the sanitary sewer system will be inspected and a video will be taken this year.
“Most people don’t really think about their sanitary sewers,” Beane said. “But when you flush the toilet or wash your dishes, that water has to go somewhere and it goes down the pipes of the sanitary sewer system. We hope to improve this system by taking steps to identify and fix problems before they cause greater damage.