Video camera cost defrayed by $20,000 grant
Posted on 05/15/2019
The crew works with the camera at a City sewer.It’s not Hollywood, but sending a video camera through sewer pipes is telling a tale that’s worth documenting. When backups occur, the camera can be used to find the source. Kitchen grease is one culprit – often built up over years. Tree roots, flushable wipes, grime and debris are other common occurrences that can cause blockages in the flow of sewer lines.

The Department of Public Works purchased a new video camera at a cost of $99,988 from Bell Equipment in December 2018, following City Council approval. The dynamic ability to discover blockages before they cause major problems enabled the DPW to secure a $20,000 grant from Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority (MMRMA) in April through their Risk Avoidance Program.

“The equipment will help lower the risk of basement flooding and property damage by finding problems before they cause blockages in the sewer systems of homes and businesses in the City,” said Loyd Cureton, DPW director.

Worn and aged pipes are the most common cause of sewer pipe breakages, but until the camera became available, it was mostly a guessing game. Now, this visual tool is being used to video sections of pipe, evaluate the pipe and document its condition.

If the camera shows that a sewer main is close to causing a sewer backup or collapsing, the DPW can take immediate actions. The camera will help identify the right equipment to use. There are several different types of nozzles that fit on the end of a long jetted hose, which uses pressurized water to clean or clear a potential hazard. Viewing a weakened pipe by camera, prior to it breaking down, makes it a maintenance item rather than an emergency repair.

The new camera system allows the department to rate the pipe and catch problems before they lead to costly damage. “It takes less time now,” said Cureton. “You’re not guessing. You can see the problem and use the correct equipment the first time. This saves both time and money.”

Another advantage of the camera is in planning roadwork – a peek into the underground sewer lines yields images that show how stable the pipes are. Identifying and fixing potential hazards in the sewer lines before roadwork begins will help prevent future excavation and damage to new roads.

“If we can catch the break before the sewer pipe collapses, the cost is significantly less,” Cureton said. “We don’t have to dig up road. And we can make the repair from inside of the main…by lining the pipe with a casing that lasts as long as 50 years.

“The inner repair is made much like turning a sock (the liner) inside out and pulling it along the pipe, then capping each end and filling it with heated water to adhere to the contours of the pipe, before cutting the ends and reconnecting lateral lines,” he explained.

The unit is portable so it can fit in the back of a truck. The camera can be operated by a laborer but evaluating pipe quality that is ranked to national standards must be done by a worker certified in that method. The City’s Assistant Director Mike Domine has that certification, and others are being trained.

“The value of taking video of the interior pipes, rating the pipe quality and making repairs has become evident and is a much more effective way to manage the process,” Cureton noted.