CCWA continues sewer line maintenance

The Clayton County Water Authority in Georgia continues to perform preventative maintenance on its sewer system to head off any larger problems which could run up drastic repair costs.

Jan. 24, 2003 -- "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" might work for many things in life, but in the business of water and sewerage service, it becomes a dangerous axiom.

Despite the tendency of human nature to tolerate a small leak until it becomes a bigger one, the Clayton County Water Authority (CCWA) in Georgia has no such luxury. Whenever there is potential compromise to the structural integrity of a pipe, the premise of "preventative maintenance" always makes for sound policy, according to CCWA officials.

An aggressive program of sanitary sewer maintenance at the authority, which is set to tackle a large project in the Conley Creek area in January, is the embodiment of that philosophy. The CCWA board of directors has recently budgeted over $240,000 to fund rehabilitation of sewer lines that are suffering from the wear and tear of over 40 years of use.

CCWA staff and subcontractors have been on a rotating program of monitoring the more than 1,000 miles of sanitary sewer line that weave underground throughout Clayton County. Using miniature cameras that record the inner workings of sanitary sewers, the CCWA gains a clear picture of the structural integrity of a length of pipe.

"We have people out almost every day to make certain that we're on top of any maintenance issues that may arise," says James Drake, wastewater spill investigator for the CCWA. "The last thing we want is to have a sewer line collapse, so keeping the monitoring program in place is a way to avoid that."

Naturally, anything underground is subject to a variety of elements that can cause structural harm. Roots of trees, infiltration and pressure can all result in a cracked or collapsed pipe. The cost of replacing a severely damaged pipe is exponentially greater than early detection and repair, added Drake, and with the use of advanced technology, pipes can be mended without having to dig up the lines for installation.

Missouri-based Insituform Technologies has worked with CCWA over the past few years to aid in sewer line repairs. The Insituform system brings a non-invasive, time-saving way of repairing piping from the inside out.

"It's just like unrolling a big sock," says Pat Melton, a technical representative with Insituform Technologies, describing the process of pipeline rehabilitation. "The inverted piping is rolled out inside of the old piping, creating a completely jointless structure, free of sources of infiltration."

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