Sewer camera uncovers leaky mains
The City of Washington spent millions of dollars building a new sewer plant and a new gravity sewer line leading to it. And yet, there is more work to be done to improve the city’s sanitary and stormwater sewers. The city is finding out just how much work with the help of a remote-controlled camera they have sent into the city sewer.
The city bought a new sewer camera about a year ago and have been using it in the city’s sewer for the past three months. The camera and all of the pertinent computer programs cost about $100,000. The camera is designed to spot leaks in the water main and determine whether the main can be fixed with a simple repair or if it needs to be replaced entirely.
City employees Delen Tusing and Greg Wolfe were using the camera Friday morning to look at a water main near the rocket slide at Sunset Park. The employees parked their trailer next to a manhole, and then lowered the camera down into it.
The camera is on a small tractor with wheels, which can be controlled from the trailer. Tusing sat at a computer inside the trailer, where he was able to watch on a computer screen what the camera was recording. Wolfe stood outside the trailer to make sure the cord stayed connected and to clean it before it was wound up for the day.
Washington engineering technician Keith Henkel said the camera is an integral part of a larger process of eliminating storm water infiltration.
In numerous places throughout town, water that should go down a storm sewer goes into the sanitary sewer instead. This is occurring at some residential sump pumps and downspouts. This, in turn, forces the wastewater treatment plant to needlessly treat clean rainwater. During heavy rains, the former wastewater plant was unable to handle the volume of water that arrived.
The new wastewater treatment plant is a few times larger than the former plant, so it should have no trouble handling the sewage, even on rainy days. Nevertheless, Henkel said the city still wants to eliminate as much stormwater infiltration as possible so as not to tax the wastewater plant.