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Drones used to detect cracks in sewer system

Drones used to detect cracks in sewer system

August 11th, 2017 by Jenny Gray in Local News

Michael Cunningham, crew leader for the Fulton wastewater department, pumps smoke-creating chemicals into a blower, then into the city's stormwater system. A drone overhead, operated by a team from Burns and McDonnell engineering firm, looked for smoke escaping from downtown rooftops, indicating cracks in the system.

Photo by Jenny Gray /Fulton Sun.

Smoke and drones rose Thursday over downtown Fulton as crews sought to detect cracks in the city's stormwater sewer system.

It was the final day of testing, according to engineer Cliff Cate, of Burns and McDowell engineering firm from Kansas City.

"We've been working with the city for two years now," Cate said of the testing project, lately focused on the sanitary and stormwater systems in downtown Fulton. "The city has a great staff — they're all very dedicated."

While a portable fan and motor blew non-toxic gray smoke down a manhole in the system, next to The Callaway Bank, city workers high in utility buckets scanned the surrounding rooftops for rising smoke — proof of leaks and breaches in the system. A crew from Burns and McDowell flew a drone up and down Fifth Street while staring at a computer screen, seeing what the drone's camera saw.

"Last year, we identified some sources of rainwater getting into the sanitary system," Cate said. "The flow rate has indicated there are some sources here (leeching) rainwater."

Thursday was the last day of the operation, and the data will be reviewed by city officials before preparing a plan to fix any damage.