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Eliminating cracks in sewage systems

Ageing sewer networks often present cracks in underground pipes that remove wastewater from homes and businesses. EU-funded researchers developed a decision support system (DSS) to facilitate corrective actions determined by inspection.
Eliminating cracks in sewage systems
While leaking of sewage out of pipes might seem like the obvious effect of cracks, in fact the problem is infiltration, or entrance of groundwater into the sewage pipes. The cracks are small enough to prevent the outflow of sewage while allowing water to enter.

Infiltration dilutes the sewage and increases the volume of water for treatment. The end result is a decrease in the efficiency of treatment and an increase in treatment costs.

In extreme cases, infiltration can cause backup of sewage into household sanitary fixtures and even outflow from manhole covers into streets.

Current pipe inspection methods rely on closed-circuit television (CCTV) together with rating systems that essentially select certain cases for closer examination of CCTV surveys.

European researchers sought to provide important advances in programming a subsequent plan of action through development of a DSS. EU funding of the Sewerinspect project provided the opportunity to do so.

The DSS included numerical methods to assess structural safety and adequacy of a damaged sewer as well as to prioritise and schedule re-inspection.

Following integration of an expert system, database, data manager and geographic information system, the consortium tested the software in the field. A system guide and user’s manual were produced along with a brochure of the DSS.

An agreement signed with a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) should facilitate commercial exploitation resulting in more efficient sewage systems and treatment as well as significant cost savings for a number of cities and countries.

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