Collection System Operators’ Challenge Determine Where & When to Deploy Cleaning Resources
Dedicated wastewater utility operators around the world face the daunting challenge to manage the vast underground pipe network that transports raw sewage through their communities. Operators constantly balance a variety of challenges: an aging infrastructure, operation and maintenance (O&M) costs, and sewer system overflows (SSOs). SSO causes include grease build up, improper disposal of household items, and pipe infiltration by tree roots . Grease and root infiltration buildup very gradually before resulting in an overflow. These events predominantly occur in the smaller diameter pipes (6-12”) used within neighborhoods where they damage the environment and can impact human health through the release of raw sewage.
To avoid SSO’s, utilities must properly time their inspection and subsequent pipe cleaning operations to avoid blockages which currently requires a complex combination of inspection crews and cleaning crews. Operators are forced to rely on historical data and intuition to determine where they need to allocate precious resources to perform SSO preventative maintenance. This approach has limited success due to the seemingly random distribution of SSOs . Current products available to wastewater operators – such as Closed Circuit TV – do not allow them to cost effectively assess their sewer system for blockages.