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ROV Applications: Storm Water and Irrigation Systems

After outlining how storm water systems work and why storm water is important to manage, it is important to also understand how to maintain these systems. Water creates a significant force against any structure it is contained by and it is the main catalyst of erosion, corrosion and weathering. Pipes do not rest or recover, they are under constant pressure from water's weight and movement. Even the strongest materials, such as concrete and steel, damage over time. This damage leads to leaks and breaks. These leaks at best are a waste of our most precious resource. It is estimated that the United States loses almost 8 trillion liters of water a year to leaks.

In the case of storm water system leaks, the contaminated water leaks into our water table and environment. The risk of storm waterways leaking is our drinking water can be contaminated and the storm water is misplaced when it could have been used for irrigation, industrial purposes, etc. after treatment. Both our drinking water and valuable storm water sources are squandered when the system breaks down.

How do we prevent these leaks? Prevention begins with inspection. Knowing the condition of the water network is the first step to planning; what areas of the network are more severely damaged than others. If a small repair is caught early on, the fix will be less costly and time consuming. It will also reduce the volume of leakage.

The Problem

  1. Storm Water pipes are usually between 15 and 60 inches and have large amounts of sediment settled at the bottom. The sediment is stirred by a diver or crawler vehicles, making visualization nearly impossible.

  2. There are also usually only an access point within meters or even kilometers of each other. This a confined space that is dangerous for a diver.

  3. The cost associated with a dive team also makes it difficult for many local governments to afford routine inspections. Often these systems are just ignored and networks are left to break down over time.

    The Solution
    Deep Trekker ROVs are the perfect solution for these storm water systems. A great example is Morris-Riley Development Management LLC, a Florida area asset management company that services a storm water irrigation system home to over 6,000 homes, 1,000,000 acres of commercial space and two golf courses. They use their two DTG2 ROVs to inspect every inch of the entire network.

The DTG2's compact and spherical shape allows it to fit into as small as 14 inch pipes, with a 270 degree rotating camera allowing for thorough inspections even within those tight, confined spaces. The low light (0.01 lux) HD camera and high efficiency LED light mounted to the camera allow for inspections of "better than human eye" quality. This is important when entering murky waters with no direct sunlight.

Morris-Riley ROV pilots are able to lower the ROV by its tether into the pipes through access points, then view the live feed from their 5.6 inch LCD screen on the handheld controller. On extremely bright, sunny days, the pilot uses Video Glasses to block out the sun and focus on the task at hand. All of the live video is recorded onto a SD card via their Digital Video Recorder, allowing them to document every inch of their inspection. The DTG2 has up to an 8 hour battery life, allowing it to be deployed from even the most remote access points with no generators necessary.

Sometimes you might discover a little more than you bargained for in a water network, such as Morris-Riley's discovery in a recent storm water pipe inspection:

Morris-Riley is just one example of how a company can take its core competencies and diversify them by adding a Deep Trekker ROV to their toolbox.

Tell us more about your company and how Deep Trekker can help with your infrastructure management