City purchases camera to view sewers

Wednesday, June 29, 2011
City of Concordia employees received training in the operation of a new remote-controlled camera last week.

It might look like something off the shelf of Toys R Us, but the latest item purchased by the city of Concordia's maintenance division is actually a sophisticated piece of diagnostic equipment.

With the approval of the Concordia Board of Aldermen, the city purchased a remote-controlled camera that will be used to inspect underground lines that are difficult or impossible for personnel to access physically.

The camera, with a $55,000 price tag, is relatively expensive, and its necessity was the topic of some debate among the board members.

"I don't know if we're jumping the gun here," said Alderman Randy Paul who noted that many larger communities don't yet have this type of technology.

Alderman Mark Schnakenberg agreed that the camera would be a benefit to the maintenance department's efforts, but questioned whether it was the most cost-effective way to do so.

City Administrator Dale Klussman and Mayor Donald Holtcamp lobbied on behalf of the purchase, however.

Klussman noted that the city's aging sewer lines are susceptible to inflow and infiltration. Known as "I & I," inflow and infiltration are used to refer to water that enters the city sewer system by means other than approved connections. This could be through unauthorized taps or through damaged lines.

Inflow and infiltration represent a sizable expense because the city's sewer billing structure is based on water sales. Because no one pays for I & I, the city must bear the cost of treating it on its own.

The new camera will allow the city to locate and repair areas of the sewer where inflow and infiltration are occurring.

Holtcamp said being able to see the lines will also help personnel develop a better schedule of maintenance and refur- bishing for underground lines. He said relining a section of underground line can be completed for a few thousand dollars.

Holtcamp compared this to the $85,000 the city had to spend to excavate and replace a section of sewer main that recently collapsed due to its deteriorated condition. In the past, Holtcamp has also mentioned several areas in town where the lines are quite deep and a collapse would likely cost millions of dollars to repair.

Once the decision to purchase the camera was made, the city had a few choices of how to proceed. Ultimately, the choice was to go with a demonstration model from Mahoney's Equipment of Arnold.

Mark Leutjen, water department superintendent, said either camera would meet the city's needs, but the Mahoney company offered an impressive training program and a good warranty. In addition, Mahoney Equipment keeps nearly 90 percent of the camera's components in stock at their facility, so if there is a problem with the unit the amount of down time is greatly reduced.

In order to defer some of the cost of purchasing the camera, the city entered into a lease-purchase agreement with State Bank of Missouri. Under the terms of the five-year agreement, the city will pay 4 percent in interest.

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