Our Founder’s Story
In 2007, a partnership was formed between a utility, Charlotte Water, and academia to help solve a problem familiar to those working in collections system maintenance –
How can utilities understand where blockages are in their extensive underground network of sewer pipes, without wasting time and resources?
In the average utility, only 10-35% of pipes require near-term maintenance. However, using traditional time-based methods, it’s hard for operators to understand where those problem areas are, without spending significant money and resources.
Dr. Ivan Howitt, then a professor at UNC-Charlotte, wanted to explore whether acoustic technology could be a potential solution to this problem. With the help of funding from the National Science Foundation, he developed a portable tool using sound waves to rapidly assess sewer lines for blockages.
This new acoustic inspection technology, called the Sewer Line Rapid Assessment Tool, or SL-RAT®, won WEF’s Innovative Technology Award in 2012. Since then, the SL-RAT has gained traction and is being used by hundreds of utilities worldwide to prioritize much more expensive cleaning assets and has inspected over 200 million feet of pipe.