Tuesday, September 5, 2017
TECH: Sewers, iPads, and drones among 5 innovations at work for clean water
Not all tech innovations are apps. Take a look at five innovations one utility has put to work for efficiency and water quality.
How do you innovate the lake?
Lake Erie is perhaps the most challenged of the Great Lakes, but with those challenges come opportunities for innovation. Sewers have been taken for granted as a significant technological advance, perhaps even since Cleveland installed its first sewers in the 1800s. Which is why it can be easy to overlook the vast amount of innovation at work and in design in the world of utilities.
Here are five examples we have working for clean water in the field that help to protect our Great Lake.
Drones are an eye in the sky
We are responsible for a regional stream network more than 420 miles long. When our Regional Stormwater Management Program launched in 2013, inspections of problem locations were documented on foot as workers physically waked the streams for planning purposes. But the most recent master-planning effort involves drone data collection. Aerial photography captures more raw images for site assessment, analysis and communication. Most recently, we covered 60 miles of the Cuyahoga River watershed with drone technology in less than two weeks.
Grading on a curve
Microtunneling involves boring a tunnel underground rather than opening up a trench at the surface. That alone is intended to minimize disruption during construction. But our Dugway West Interceptor Relief Sewer also featured a rarely used technology known as curved microtunneling. It eliminated two access shafts at the surface, saving money and reducing impacts on the neighborhood above the project.
iPads keep documents and data at the ready
Our sewer maintenance and stormwater inspection and maintenance teams use iPads for GIS, asset location, and site investigations. Finding collection systems in the field in real time increases productivity, and the ability to report from the field improves response time.
Piloting treatment tech could save dollars, improve water quality
We have a 25-year plan to reduce Lake Erie pollution by 4 billion gallons a year. Doing so is costly, but proper planning has given us potential to save money through innovative approaches. One is chemically enhanced high-rate treatment. Implementing CEHRT at our plants, like Westerly shown here, eliminates the need for extensive construction, reduces operation and maintenance costs, and meets our water-quality requirements through simultaneous disinfection.
Maps tell the story
Storymaps are mashups. They use GIS and a variety of web tools to communicate through visually appealing maps like mobile storyboards. One example captures progress and success of our Green Infrastructure Grant program, pinpointing project locations, project photos, and descriptions of benefits. Future construction will be documented for customers in a similar way.