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Lee’s Summit uses device to inspect condition of water line without shutting off water flow

Lee’s Summit using new device to test condition of water pipe
Posted at 8:16 AM, Mar 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-21 09:16:44-04

LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — Leaders in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, will learn about the condition one of its most important water mains by using a device for the first time which allows for an inspection without turning off the water.

The sanitized “PipeDiver” will travel through the 2.5 feet wide pipe for six miles. Along the way the PipeDiver will collect information about the quality of the line which pumps drinking water into the city from a treatment center in Independence.

In the past, the city’s water department used a software to predict which lines would need replacing. Jeff Thorn, the city’s assistant director of water utilities, said in some cases it is cheaper to replace small water pipes than inspect them. But the main which the crew will inspect Thursday is so big, it would cost an enormous amount of money to replace.

The “PipeDiver” method of inspecting the line will give Thorn and the water department more specific information about which sections of the line truly need attention.

The city said this inspection will save money in the long run by helping the city budget for any necessary repairs and avoid taking out a bond or raising rates.

Lee’s Summit partnered with consultants to do this project and a few others around town. The total cost for the work is about $1.6 million, according to Thorn.

The city buys its drinking water, so it’s critical the pipes bringing water into the city are working.

“Customers won't even know we're there. And that's kind of the way we like it. We'd just as soon not be very high on the radar,” Thorn said.

The city chose to do the work before water usage peaked in the summer.