Underground robots inspect Columbus pipelines

By Taylor Barnhill  - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The city of Columbus is using new technology to prevent road problems and trouble in the water system by sending robots underground to gather information.

Columbus has almost 20,000 storm center pipes throughout the city, and inspecting them is a huge undertaking.

Stormwater Data Collection Projects Manager Michael Burgess told News Leader Nine, "We have pipes in Columbus that are old and up until now we had to do exploratory surgery anytime we had a sinkhole or any other type of defect in the system."

And now help has arrived, in the form of a 17 inch tall robot.

"There's a computerized system inside and we videotape the storm water pipes," explained the Stormwater Data Technician Ricardo Paul.

Burgess added, "Now with this equipment we are able to be more proactive and asses the condition of the drainage system without having to open the road."

Workers take the transporters and send them down below, then they use video images to inspect pipes underground.

The transporter can travel up to 1,400 feet in pipes as small at ten inches in diameter. When they send it into the lines, Burgess says they are mostly looking for, "Debris, root intrusions, off-set joints, pipes we didn't know were there."

Then they can get to work on preventing future problems.

"We didn't have knowledge of any of the problems we were having in the piping system so this aids them to know exactly where we are having difficulties that need to be fixed," said Paul.

Not only does the camera help prevent problems like clogs and cracking, but they can also use it to monitor pollutants that could seep into the water system.

Burgess said, "If there's a problem they've identified that requires attention, they make me aware of it and I forward the video and reports to the people to make repairs."

All the equipment costs nearly $170,000 and was funded by the 2003 Stormwater Bond.

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