Cameras inside sewer lines show grease, face masks causing clogs

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The device may look like a remote-controlled car and is even driven by a video game controller, but it’s tackling a dirty job — checking out clogs and other issues in Mobile sewer pipes.

The device has LED lights and a camera lighting up problems in pipes. We met Howard, who operates the device, while he was out on a call for a clog. He said, “Called in a complaint they couldn’t flush, and we’re trying to find out what the reasoning behind it was.”

He set up the camera and started looking for the root of the problem. Along with the source of the issue, he also found other problems. Howard said, “There is a small crack there we would notate.”

MAWSS Water & Sewer Engineering Manager Calressia Clark said, “Not just the video investigation, we have field investigation as well, and so it’s not just those camera trucks, we have computers in the ground. We have about 70 of them.”

Clark said MAWSS has invested a lot of money into finding a problem early, before it gets bigger. She said, “We’re all about investigating. We want to know before the community knows of their issues.”

Face masks and other items pulled from sewer on Thursday, March 24

She said the cameras, along with other technology, give better insight into water levels. Clark said, “If we go into high level, or what we call high-high level which is the distance from the rim, that lets us know that we can potentially have overflows if the rain continues at the level that it’s at.”

Clark told WKRG News 5 the proactive measures are making a big difference. She said, “We still have overflows, but if you look over the years, our overflows have come way down.”

Back out at the site of the clog, Howard told us what he sees inside the pipes. He said, “We’ve seen snakes, rats, you have roaches in here now. We have found, I don’t know how many, many accounts of jewelry.”

While the cameras help combat clogs, there are other man-made issues. Howard said, “That is actually grease that is coming out of the homeowner’s home.”

Howard took a picture of what he pulled out of sewer lines on the call we went with him on. He said it shows a bigger problem in sewer lines caused by coronavirus. He said, “People flushing masks is one of the biggest things that we find because they think that’s an easy way to dispose of them, but in our system, it’s not designed for that.”

MAWSS sewer mileage

Learn more about MAWSS’s programs by clicking HERE.

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