News Briefs: Researchers Develop Robotic Inspection Device

In this week's news, researchers develop a pipe inspection device, the EPA sends stormwater management orders and Boston beach quality improves thanks to storm drain cleanup.
News Briefs: Researchers Develop Robotic Inspection Device

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Researchers from MIT and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia are working on a self-propelled device that could change how municipalities handle pipe inspections. The robotic system, which was recently presented at two international conferences, can travel up to 3 mph and detect leaks as small as 1 to 2 millimeters.

"The new device could be produced in various sizes to fit different kinds of pipes, and should be effective in gas, water and oil pipes,” says Dimitrios Chatzigeorgiou, lead author of the research paper in a Phys Org article.

The inspection device can fit in pipes as small as 4 inches, and it uses GPS to locate and report the location of a leak. Researchers state the device could potentially be put into a pipe system and left indefinitely, “conducting nonstop monitoring of the system.”

The device uses a drum-like membrane that forms a seal across the width of the pipe. When a leak is encountered, the membrane pulls slightly toward the leak. That distortion is detected by sensors, which send the information back via wireless communication. This type of technology — detecting leaks by sensing pressure gradients — is what makes the device unique.

The prototype requires uniform pipes, but researchers are working on ways to add more flexibility to account for pipe damage, obstacles and scale buildup.

Source: Phys Org

EPA Orders 85 Municipalities to Improve Stormwater Management

The EPA has ordered 85 municipalities in northeast and north central Pennsylvania to improve stormwater management. The orders are designed to improve water quality in local streams and in the Chesapeake Bay, which is directly downstream of most of the affected municipalities.

The orders “make it clear to the municipalities that they need to do a better job of implementing their programs for controlling stormwater runoff,” says EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin in a press release.

The cited municipalities must develop and implement a program to reduce contamination from stormwater runoff and illegal discharges of stormwater. They must also correct deficiencies in their MS4 programs.

For a list of municipalities receiving the orders, please see the EPA press release.

Source: EPA

Beaches Earn High Grades Thanks to Storm Drain Cleanup

Better grades mean better beaches in Boston, Mass., where bacteria counts have decreased thanks in part to a decrease in illegal storm drain hookups. The area had significantly less bacteria in 2013, according to Save the Harbor Save the Bay’s third annual report card.

“The biggest story remains South Boston,” says Bruce Berman, director of communications for Save the Harbor in a Nashoba Publishing article. “Those beaches used to be closed one out of every five days not so very long ago.”

The Boston Water and Sewer Commission, which works with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, has used various methods to discover how sewage ends up in storm drains. Even in municipalities that have built new sewage systems to eliminate combined systems, illegal hookups remain a problem. Berman says the City of Lynn, which has upgraded its system, discovered half of the high school toilets were connected to the stormwater system.

Source: Nashoba Publishing

What Concerns the U.S. Water Industry?

Aging infrastructure, capital needs and a retiring workforce remain top concerns for the water industry, according to the newly released 2014 U.S. Water Industry Outlook from WeiserMazars LLP. Also, 80 percent of respondents said the current rate approval process is unnecessarily complex, stating that reform and simplification are needed.

When asked how these situations could be solved, survey respondents rated local political support as the most critical element needed. Public support for financial improvements and private sector involvement are also important, according to industry participants.

This year’s industry survey explored several new areas, including technical innovation, pricing and customer education, and workforce management and customer service. To read more, view then entire report here.


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