Sewer TV - Remote Cameras Used to Prevent Major Backups in Des Moines Sanitary Sewer System

Press Release

Des Moines, Iowa — Wednesday, July 7, 2021 — Underneath Des Moines streets, roughly 1,000 miles of sanitary sewer lines constantly carry wastewater from residents and businesses across the City to be treated. This year, the Des Moines Public Works Department is making progress on an initiative to use cameras to document the expansive network to get ahead of the curve of maintaining this critical infrastructure.

“We’re really looking to proactively address potential hazards in our sanitary sewer system to prevent costlier issues,” Public Works Director Jonathan Gano said. “This is a massive effort that’s going to take some time, but should pay dividends in how we can efficiently protect our sanitary sewer system.”

“Televising” the sanitary sewer system involves a crew sending a remote camera into the sewers and rating, describing and logging the location of any defects found. Another member of the crew also visually inspects and rates each of the surface access points to help City employees prioritize proactive repairs.

"Historically, we’ve dealt with problems reactively,” Clean Water Program Administrator Patrick Beane said. “When we have a problem, we go out and repair it and get the line back in service. These repairs are generally much more expensive than doing the work before a backup or major issue becomes evident."

To speed up the process, Des Moines Public Works has augmented its own televising systems with a contractor, Equix, who is currently conducting televising work throughout the City. Beane estimates that roughly 10% or around 100 miles of the sanitary sewer system will be inspected and have video taken this year.

“Most people don’t really think about their sanitary sewers,” Beane said. “But when you flush your toilets or wash your dishes, that water has to go somewhere and it comes to the sanitary sewer system pipes. We’re hoping to improve that system by taking steps to identify and address issues before they cause larger damages.”

Al Setka
Chief Communications Officer, City Manager’s Office
(515) 283-4057

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