Darlington using technology to find and fix aging sewer problems

A section of Pearl Street in downtown Darlington remains closed Wednesday, following a sewer main break that caused part of the roadway to collapse.

DARLINGTON, SC (WBTW) – With water and sewer rates set to go up for Darlington customers in October, many who live in the city limits want to know exactly what the plan is to fix the city’s aging infrastructure.

It’s not a unique thing to see if you live in Darlington these days. Pedestrians and cars often share the roads with heavy equipment on its way to fix a sewer line.

It’s nothing new that Darlington’s water and sewer system–with some pipes as many as 90 years old–needs serious work. And while people who live there can see progress, it often comes at a price.

“You really don’t know when they’re coming in,” said Joyce Thomas.

Thomas and her neighbors on Reid Street were surprised this week when they suddenly found their street blocked off and workers digging to fix an old pipe.

“There should be some type of way to notify citizens,” she said.

We caught up with Darlington city planning director Lisa Rock at Tuesday’s City Council meeting to get some more perspective on exactly what the plan is.

“The city has a multi-phased plan to deal with water and sewer concerns,” Rock said. “We have a grant in SW Darlington to fix and replace old sewer lines.”

This project was bid out and given to a company called Insituform.

Workers first send cameras down under the streets of the city to identify the areas that need immediate work.

The other part of the city’s plan involves checking existing pipe–also using some unique technology.
“We bought some acoustic technology,” explained Rock. “The workers can put one end down one manhole go to the next manhole and put in the receiver in”

City workers then send sound waves through the pipes in order to detect blockages or weaknesses.
“We’re systematically going through our system and applying for more grants,” said Rock.

In the future Joyce Thomas says she’s hoping more progress is made and that communication improves.
“They kinda just do the band-aid thing,” Thomas said. “Are we just repairing or are we going to replace everything? I think the citizens need an answer.”

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