- Associated Press - Monday, October 2, 2017

BELLEVUE, Neb. (AP) - A city in eastern Nebraska is using a musical instrument of sorts as a tool to help determine how much money the city will need to repair and maintain its sewers.

The SL-Rat transmitter is a tool used to assess Bellevue’s aging sewers. The sonar-like technology emits and listens to the tones. City workers then evaluate the sewer pipe and give a score between zero and 10 to rate how clean a pipe is, the Omaha World-Herald reported .

“It’s easy to drive down a road and say, ‘Yup, this road needs to be repaved,’” said Gary Hallaert, field superintendent for RMS Utility Services, a contractor the city hired to survey its sewers. “It’s not so easy to see what’s underground.”

If the transmitter determines that a line is blocked or in poor condition, city workers have to go back and figure out what’s causing the problem.

Workers would first flush the lines with water to remove debris. Then they send remotely controlled inspection cameras into the sewers, noting and coding deficiencies.

Pipeline problems include both structural and maintenance deficiencies, said Epiphany Ramos, Bellevue’s wastewater operations manager.

Ramos said the city has looked at nearly 90 of Bellevue’s 360 miles of pipelines. She said that so far, estimated repair costs for those 90 miles could be between $12 million and $23 million depending on whether the city contracts out the work or handles repairs itself.

Councilman Pat Shannon said Bellevue is potentially looking at an $80 million, city-wide problem, but that getting a final price tag on the work could take up to three years unless the city devotes more resources to inspecting the lines.

“We need roads, we need libraries, we need a lot of other things, but if the toilets when you flush them, they don’t go down, we’re going to hear about that,” Shannon said.


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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