Yorkton public works crews are getting a much closer look at the condition of underground storm water and sewer line pipes in the city these days.
The underground look is coming thanks to new robotic closed circuit television equipment which can actually travel through the pipes sending images back to a computer terminal.
Yorkton Mayor Bob Maloney said the equipment allows for a much better assessment of what's under the ground.
"It gives us an idea of what's down there," he said.
In general terms, as crews inspect more pipe, the City will be able to better plan repair and replacement programs.
"We want to know where the problem areas are," said Maloney, adding such knowledge will improve planning.
Rene Richard Assistant Director of Public Works with the City, said the inspection program still has a lot of work to do, estimating 20 per cent of sanitary line has been camera-inspected, and only five per cent of storm sewer pipe. He added the entire system may take a few years to camera.
The inspection program can identify issues with pipes before they become a problem which impacts people in the city, such as a root growing into a sewer pipe which would eventually cause sewer back up.
"It can pinpoint where … the problem is," said Maloney.
Richard said camera operators have been given training which allows them to rate issues such as cracks in a pipe, with the rating based on a standardized system which allows for comparative analysis to take place.
It is such pipe ratings which will be a big part "of long term maintenance programs," he said.
The equipment used for inspections came with a $200,000 price tag, coming out of the 2013 capital budget.
While there was a significant upfront cost with the City purchasing its own equipment, Richard noted when a problem arose in the past and they needed to contract camera work to find the issue they were facing cost of $15 per lineal foot of pipe.
Maloney said the current Council felt the investment was justified as the information gained by the inspection program will be an important aspect of underground infrastructure renewal planning.
"It's not something we wanted to put off for other Council's to deal with," he said.
Richard said replacing all the existing pipe already in place would be a huge cost. He estimated $38 million to replace the 128 miles of sanitary sewer line under city streets, and $29 million for the 53 miles of storm sewer.