Zooming in on Pipelines
Known as “The Gate City,” Nashua is the second largest city in New Hampshire and often considered the center of a diverse and dynamic region that includes more than 175,000 people. Due to the excellent quality of life and its close proximity to Boston, the seacoast and the White Mountains, Nashua is also the only city in America to be named twice as the “Best Place to Live in America” by Money magazine.
A decade ago, the city of Nashua faced the prospects of a declining overall population and an increasingly aged populace. This prompted the city to develop a master plan to guide the redevelopment of existing areas, grow business and meet the ongoing public safety needs of all residents. Included in this undertaking was the investment of more than $100 million in infrastructure improvements that were deemed necessary for the achievement of these goals: ensuring high water quality and great service; developing a long-term sewer rehabilitation/replacement program to address aging and damaged sewer lines; and addressing combined sewer overflows (CSOs) that many times created substantial pollution problems throughout the area.
In total, Nashua has approximately 400 miles of sewer pipelines, of which approximately 100 miles is composed of combined sewer and storm water lines. As a result, ongoing challenges included overflows that regularly discharged waste and untreated storm water into the Nashua and Merrimack rivers. Additional problems confronting the city’s wastewater department included the maintenance and repair of sewer and storm pipelines that are more than 100 years old in some areas.
“Our division is dedicated to the inspection and rehabilitation of these lines,” said Kenneth Lowe, collection system foreman. “It is an ongoing process to maintain these pipelines due to their age and the ongoing effects of deterioration, as well as joint separations, root infiltrations, cracks and other problems that afflict our system, which is composed primarily of cement, clay and PVC piping.”
To assist in the effective upkeep of the city’s sewer and storm lines, and to increase the productivity of its six-person wastewater department staff, the division purchased a QuickView zoom inspection camera from Envirosight about two years ago. Lowe and his crew have used the camera to assess underground drainage systems that often lie up to 13 ft below street level and are difficult to access.
“We investigated other zoom camera systems and chose the QuickView because we were impressed by its ease of use and the quality of its imagery during Envirosight’s in-field demonstrations,” Lowe said. “Since its purchase, we have used the camera at least twice per week, every week to detect all forms of pipeline challenges. We probably recovered our investment in the camera in its first year on the job.”
According to Lowe, the QuickView is ideal for safely and rapidly capturing detailed color video and digital imagery of pipeline interiors without entering the system. Consisting of a camera, lamps, positioning pole and video display, it is lowered into a manhole and oriented to view large sections of pipe. Starting with a wide-angle view, the operator slowly increases zoom, enabling the camera to peer deeper into the pipe and, within minutes, inspect the entire length.
Easy Does It
“From arrival and setup to cleanup and departure, an entire job usually only takes about 30 to 45 minutes with the QuickView,” said Dave Essensa, field collections technician. “It is so easy to use. We simply insert it into a manhole, focus the camera and zoom in on problem areas. The imagery is so clear that we can easily determine the cause of challenges in minutes, which normally consists of root intrusions, blockages and cracks formed over the years through erosion.”
Once complete, Essensa archives the inspection imagery for easy access from a computer at the department headquarters and prepares a report backed by print imagery for submission to Nashua’s street department.
“All of our efforts are documented for easy reference by our department and others,” Essensa said. “It didn’t take me any more than a few hours to learn nearly every aspect of its operation. A little intuition and a look every now and then at the training manual was all it took.”
“In the end, our purchase has proven to be a real boon to our bottom line, which is a definite plus since municipal and public works budgets everywhere are coming under such scrutiny these days,” Lowe said.