Field Operations-System Maintenance
The maintenance of the sewer collection system can be broken down into four functions or disciplines: cleaning, sewer investigations, construction and training. There are 35 dedicated, hard-working people involved in these disciplines to assure proper system maintenance.
DES routinely cleans sewers, manholes, and catch basins. Cleaning a sewer has become more manageable with modern equipment. While it is still necessary to climb down the manhole and get dirty, the vactor is truly DES’s workhorse. To clean (or unblock) a sewer, the vactor utilizes high-pressure water, specialized cleaning nozzles, and a vacuum capable of sucking up bricks and 5" diameter rocks. All of our vactors are under five years old and in service almost everyday.
When rocks and bricks do turn up during cleaning, it’s usually not a good sign. That is where sewer investigations come into play. DES also has the right equipment to help see what’s going on in the sewer. Using a remote controlled vehicle with a mini-video camera on top, we can “televise” the condition of pipes as large as three feet or as small as three inches in diameter. We televise main sewers and house laterals (from property line clean-outs to the main sewer). Pipes are checked for cleanliness, integrity (is the pipe still round or is it starting to crack or break) and capacity (flow marks on the sides or top of the pipe). After a sewer is televised and evaluated, the next step may be more cleaning or digging up the street to fix the pipe.
Our construction crews are our busiest. Construction handles all catch basin grate changes, manhole frame and cover changes, lateral repairs, main sewer repairs, and many other miscellaneous construction tasks. The construction crew is at work everyday—whether it’s replacing a house lateral or fixing a manhole cover that rattles when cars go over it. DES staff utilize backhoes, dumptrucks, jackhammers and the reliable hand shovel to keep our system operational everyday.
The DES training team specializes in teaching our employees safe and efficient ways to operate our equipment. Sewer crew cross-training is accomplished by rotating team members through each discipline so that all skill levels are maximized and DES is always ready and able to quickly respond to collection system needs.