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A Twisty Maze Of Sewerbot Links, All Different 179

Posted by timothy
from the get-your-mind-back-in-the-gutter dept.
skids writes "Look before you sit! Sewer systems all over the world are under seige by robots laying fiber to the curb -- and beyond. There's even a standards body forming. (Doesn't that consitute a one-level recursion of 'pipes carrying filth'?)" It's been a while since we last mentioned these things.
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A Twisty Maze Of Sewerbot Links, All Different

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  • ... a maze of twisty little passages, all alike?

    Anyway, I'm glad it's robots doing that, there's no way on earth I would go down there!

    RickTheWizKid
    • by Cade144 (553696)
      Given the right size paycheck, I'd gladly put on my hip waders and go down there and start running fiber, no problem.

      But there's the rub, people are expensive, cantankerous, and insist on frivolities like safety. 'Bots are ideal for jobs where people are too expensive or the environment too dangerous.


      Go, go, Sewerbots!

    • One of the articles mentioned a bot 6" round, 36" long. Another was 6 feet long and 8" around.

      And they are intended to lay cable in pipes that are that small. So how do they go around corners?

      I also wonder what happens when a fault develops in the line, in a inaccessible (can't dig it up) location. Do they rip it all out and put a new one in?

  • ...but I'll read anything that has a Tick reference in the teaser
  • by rickthewizkid (536429) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @06:48PM (#4840198)
    IP over rodentia carrier?
    BR RickTheWiseAss
  • by craenor (623901) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @06:49PM (#4840201) Homepage
    Until a wrong turn has a battlebot crawling out of your toilet with cable laying on it's mind.
    • by Bicoid (631498) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @06:55PM (#4840244)
      Think of it this way. They're laying fiber optics. What's the worst thing that happens? You get that colonoscopy you've been putting off?
      • After the "joys" of a colonoscopy (particularly the preparation) one would have to say that it's something you want to put off until it's medically necessary. You'd have to be a sick puppy to have one just for the fun of it ...

        However, it is kind of fun coming out of the sedative-induced haze. I wanna take those drugs home with me :)

      • Prison Sex? (Score:4, Funny)

        by sielwolf (246764) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @07:57PM (#4840576) Homepage Journal
        What's the worst thing that happens? You get that colonoscopy you've been putting off?
        Yeah... I bet that's what they say when your about to go to prison for a looooonnng time.
        • Heh... actually, anoscopy would probably be a more-appropriate term.

          A colonoscope is about 160+ cm in length... I sincerely hope you wouldn't be unfortunate enough to have a cellmate that could beat that...

    • For my own oc3 line hell ya! I do not give a dam about my toilet or bathroom at all.

      I would love to have my own set servers for every task and game imaginable. But bandwith is expensive.

      Hell I could lease the bandwith out to fellow geeks for a fee and use the money to buy a whole new bathroom....and house.

    • No, no, I already see where this is going. The telcos are just saying that they're laying "fibre to the curb" in this manner in order to bring you cheaper, better and faster bandwidth. And indeed, I'm sure they are actually laying the stuff. But once we're all hooked and the honeymoon is over and they start doing to that fibre service just as they and the cable co.s are now doing with DSL and such just what will bcome of all those little robots scuttling about the bowels of are fine land? Well? I can tell you. They will become the one and only thing that the telcos are honestly and earnestly interested in giving we customers. All of those little sewage pipe crawling robots will be converted into customer cornholing machines! Mark my words I tell you!
  • Look before sitting? I do half my dirty work standing as it is, how bout, just don't sit!
  • And... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Cali Thalen (627449) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @06:52PM (#4840219) Homepage
    ...when people tell you that the internet has gone down the toilet, NOW what do you have to say?

    • Lawyers (Score:5, Funny)

      by Catskul (323619) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @07:53PM (#4840557) Homepage
      Why should we put money into developing robots to do this work.

      Couldnt we just ask the lawyers to do it while they are down there ?
      • Re:Lawyers (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Skiboo (306467)
        Why should we put money into developing robots...

        If you think the lawyers would be cheaper, there's a bridge I'd like to sell you.

        (After you sign this 400-page End Bridge Owner License Agreement)
  • yeah right (Score:3, Funny)

    by caffeine_monkey (576033) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @06:52PM (#4840220)
    "fibre optic cable laying robot". yeah, sure. we all know that robot + fibre optic connection = high bandwidth voyeur cam.
  • Crocodiles (Score:2, Funny)

    by Gax (196168)

    What will happen when the crocodiles attempt to eat these robots? Will we see lawsuits filed by crocodile protection groups?

    Alternatively, couldn't we save money and persuade the Mutant Ninja Turtles to lay the cables? They've had nothing to do since the show got cancelled. What a group of lazy bums, especially that Splinter geezer!

  • Translation (Score:4, Funny)

    by Alsee (515537) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @06:53PM (#4840224) Homepage
    It's been a while since we last mentioned these things.

    In other words it's a dupe in slow motion :)

    -
  • security (Score:5, Insightful)

    by austad (22163) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @06:53PM (#4840225) Homepage
    The bad part about this, is that the fiber will be easy to access for people who would like to do bad things to it, like chop it in half. Right now, most fiber is buried and terminates in locked buildings/closets/etc. But simply lifting a manhole cover gives an attacker access.

    A few years ago, there was a guy in Fargo, ND who wanted to rob a stereo shop called Site On Sound. The shop had an alarm system, so instead of just chopping the wires on the outside of the building, he obtained some city blueprints and found where the largest bundle of phone wires went, and cut it in half with a chainsaw. Apparently, it was a 2 foot thick bundle of twisted pairs, and the entire city of Fargo was completely without phone service for nearly a week while the 2 foot thick cable was spliced back together.

    Hope they don't plan on running anything too important over sewer fiber. It's cheap, but it has far greater risk than burying it.
    • Re:security (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jordy (440) <jordanNO@SPAMsnocap.com> on Sunday December 08, 2002 @07:05PM (#4840314) Homepage
      I fail to see how this is any less secure than burying fiber and placing big signs around it warning there is a fiber drop so someone with a backhoe doesn't accidentally dig it up. Even in a city where the cable is buried under the road, there are access points all over the place.

      In fact, many of these robots are built to run cable in piping that is inaccessible to humans so they are *more* secure than running fiber next to train tracks or under roads.
      • Re:security (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Banjonardo (98327)
        I agree, it's all about money. A person who is determined enough will get there eventually, whether it is reasonably easy, like the sewer, or harder, like with locked access points. It's like in military fortifications- why build a wall of double thickness if they're gonna use explosives on it? Build two walls, so they have to blow one up, clear the debris, then blow the other one up. That way you give yourself more time than with a double-wall. It's all about how determined the other guy is.
      • Re:security (Score:4, Interesting)

        by myov (177946) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @08:41PM (#4840825)
        A few years ago, the most of the cable system in Ontario (as well as other ISP's) lost internet access when the fiber lines were cut. The lines ran along railway right-of-way to the @home connection in the U.S.

        One night, two drunk guys decided to dig up telecom cables and sell the copper (not realizing it's all fiber). In the process, they cut the primary and backup lines.
    • If i remember correctly this took out a good portion of the state internet fiber also! (hecn)
    • Re:security (Score:2, Informative)

      by ikeleib (125180)
      That's a storm sewer. These methods put fiber in sanitary sewers. If a guy goes into the sanitary sewer to cut a fiber optic line, the loss of the fiber is not your largest problem.
  • These sewer bots must be very resiliant animals indeed if they are to contend with the poo and filth of the sewers. I wonder if this same rugged sewer bot technology could be used by NASA or the military?

    The sewer seems like such an foul environment, with numerous bacterias and small animals. Seems like a fiber laid in the sewer has a greater chance of being severed than one that's laid in dedicated pipes. What's preventing Joe Sanitation worker from cutting or tripping over these fibers?
    • Re:Sewer bots (Score:2, Informative)

      by MoOsEb0y (2177)
      did you read the article? It talks about how the bot is designed to lay the pipe in the sewers. It doesn't string it or anything. A separate machine does that using pressurized air.
  • Now, when people complain about all the filth on the Internet... They'll be correct!!
  • by Tseran (625777) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @06:57PM (#4840257) Journal
    Some say its an urban legend, the stories of robots flushed down the toilets when they were just mini-battle bots, all grown up to huge proportions and laying fiber all over the city. But I know its true! I accidentally flushed by Lego Mindstorms down the toilet one day and now I have high speed internet access when I crap!
  • Anyone remember that Simpson's episode when Homer sits on the john? Then Bart turns the channel on the TV and gets an inside-the-toilet-view of Homer's "happenings" ?

    Figure 6 of the japanese link (the word world in the summary) explains how that was setup!

    --Answer this question while on the john [tilegarden.com]

  • Retreiving the broken robot.
  • Those of you following UserFriendly for some time may be aware of where internet filth comes from [userfriendly.org].
  • Why use sewer lines? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jason Pollock (45537) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @07:07PM (#4840323) Homepage
    Sewer lines are dirty, nasty confined places, do we really need the roto-rooter guy taking out our broadband connection?

    Everyone sees roads continually being torn up to lay cable. Why don't the municipalities lay a "data pipe" to go along with the gas and sewer lines.

    That way, there's a maintained pipe for power and data to run down. The city rents space, and you don't have roads being torn up anymore. Instead of once per carrier per service, it's torn up once period! New services become a _lot_ cheaper because you don't have to pay to repave the roads!

    Cities would love it because they get a steady income, companies love it because it doesn't involve insane amounts of capex... Win all around?

    Jason Pollock
    • by teasea (11940)
      do we really need the roto-rooter guy taking out our broadband connection?
      Speaking as a guy who was a plumber for ten years, I guarantee some guy with a drain snake will be cutting these on a regular basis. When you have 200 feet of snake and the run from the toilet to the curb is 100 feet blades won't know the difference between fibre lines and fibrous roots. Unless they can affix these lines to the uppermost part of the pipe, and they only use the large trunks, they are going to have problems.
      • by kidlinux (2550) <<ten.xobecaps> <ta> <ekud>> on Monday December 09, 2002 @12:55AM (#4841950) Homepage
        "It then drags three steel conduits -- casing that houses the fiber and shields it from the sewage"

        In this article [usatoday.com] they have a bit at the end detailing how it works. First the robot inserts steel rings into the pipe, then it drags the steel conduit into the pipe and attaches it to the rings.
        The cable is then blown through the conduit with pressurized air.

        I'm also fairly certain that if a site with fiber optic cable in its sewer pipes had plumbing problems, they'd be sure to let the plumber know before hand. There may even be warning lables attached to said pipes.
    • because... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by malakai (136531) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @07:47PM (#4840525) Journal
      It cost more to dig up the streets and lay your 'data pipe' then the pipe can generate income over an acceptable period of time. Sure a city could amortize it over 100 years, and _might _ make a profit on the money equal to some other investment they could have done with the money, but there's no guarantee in 100 years this data pipe of yours will still be as usefull. Too risky, too costly, there are better ways to put tax dollars to work.

      -malakai
      • If you didn't have anyone laying cable, then yes, I wouldn't bother. However, in many places they are already digging up the street.

        Here in Wellington NZ, we have 4 companies digging up the roads, sequentially (Telecom, Saturn, Clear now merged with Saturn, CityLink). They are all running their own cables in the downtown core. Each one results in the same piece of road being torn up to lay more cable. The paint on the sidewalk detailing all the wiring is quite impressive.

        Of course, they're going to have to do it all over again in 10 years...

        As for the cost, I can only assume that the initial cost would be the similar to the cost of laying a single wire (they currently sink a pipe, just a smaller one) in the first place (let alone 4). So, you get one carrier to subsidize the cost for lower rent on the pipe later.

        We have municipalities charging rent on phone booths, so why not?

        Carriers win because they avoid the capex, ROI is faster and easier to see. They get to walk away from bad investments without having thrown money down a hole.

        Cities win because they get income without having to do anything like pave a road. Better all around.

        Of course, it will play merry hell with fault tolerance and single points of failure.... :)

        Jason
  • This is the coolest idea on earth. God, why don't I think of stuff like this?

    Anyway, will water getting into the pipes holding the cables hurt anything? Make it not work? I can't imagine more than 10 miles of cable without a few leaks...
    • Yeah, but fiber can get wet and not short out, since its pulses of light and not electrical signals.
  • by coloth (630330) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @07:11PM (#4840345)
    These robots reminded me of W.I.S.O.R. [discover.com], a robot built by Honeybee Robotics [honeybeerobotics.com] to repair the ancient steam pipes under New York's streets.

    Very interesting to anyone reading this would be a docudrama [160.79.86.26] about the creation of W.I.S.O.R. This is a cross between Pi, 2001, and Junkyard Wars.

    Of peripheral, yet substantial interest is Honeybee's RoboTender [honeybeerobotics.com], a robotic bartender.

  • Bandwidth (Score:4, Funny)

    by indigo78 (464058) <michele@albrigo.poste@it> on Sunday December 08, 2002 @07:12PM (#4840348) Homepage
    I don't want even a small cable to reduce my sewer bandwidth...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      " I don't want even a small cable to reduce my sewer bandwidth..."

      Switching to a low fiber diet will help.
    • I don't want even a small cable to reduce my sewer bandwidth...

      You're a Packer fan, aren't you?
  • ....to eat more fiber so that you don't get a blockage. And now the phone company can add more fiber so the internet doesn't get a blockage.

    Either way, it all ends up in the sewer.

  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @07:16PM (#4840368) Journal
    You can put the rings in the sewer and install the pipes in the rings but many sewers have leaked pipes that fill up the sewers. I read in Time Magazine about 5 years ago that only a two-thirds of raw sewage makes it to the waste water treatment plants. The other third leaks into the sewers themselves and into the groundwater contaminating many beaches. If a sewer has a foot of sludge on the bottom then how is the robot going to law cable or keep the sewage out of the pipes carrying the fiber? As a kid I enjoyed playing in storm drains and I opened a few sewer lids thinking they were drainage systems. Most had close to a foot of sewage on the buttom.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      A lot of sewer leakage is actually due to the soil and geography. From my public health studies, I seem to recall Florida having a LOT of problems. In the northeast, maples are notorious for finding cracks in the older iron and cement based home sewer piping.

      I thought about talking to my munipality about doing this instead of using pole attachments (since the utilities are very hard to get a hold of around here in southcentral Pennsylvania). However, the number one problem that I thought of was in most area, you *always* have to call roto-rooter once in a while.

      So you will have to protect that cable quite well. When you have a sewer backup or slowdown, they put in that motorized snake with the single or dual edge blade (essentially, somewhat flexible steel knife edge) that scrapes the inside of the pipe, moving about 1/4" every rotation so 4 "cuts" per inch, and I doubt that even a strong fiber line can take that kind of abuse. Plus, it sounds like a lot of these lines may not be exactly well secured.

      So you would have to place the fiber to the wall to prevent snagging and wrapping around the snake, and have it well encased to prevent it from the blade. Seems a lot of trouble. Less so than a digging up a city street, but I wouldn't want primary OC3 lines run this way.
  • by Subcarrier (262294) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @07:17PM (#4840372)
    Oh, great. So now we have to install crappers in the meeting rooms to get the LAN access.

    The upside is, no more toilet breaks.
  • Caller: This connection is CRAP!

    Tech Support: Technically, it's IN crap.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    user1: "my connection is going slow."

    user2: "must be all that shit clogging up the lines."

    user1: "yeah, must be! let me try flushing the connection." *goes to toilet and flushes several times*
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2002 @07:25PM (#4840418)
    it's a real shitty connection :P

    (sorry, i couldn't resist)
  • No wonder the service stinks.
  • by Nefrayu (601593) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @07:33PM (#4840466) Homepage
    It would seem that this is a convergence of policies for the former US President and VP. Clinton wanted to make healthcare more affordable and/or free, and Gore wanted to route the internet to everyone's home, business, or public meeting place. With this system you can get the internet and a free colonoscopy at the same time!
    Any of you who've been subjected to a sigmoid colonoscopy would know that you can't tell the difference between a robot shoving a fiber optic bundle from a physician shoving the fiber optic endoscope up there.
  • FOR ME TO POOP ON!
  • by kamskii (619903)
    I find it funny that the submitter's name is Skids.
  • ...another crude attempt by those crappy life insurance companies to get the elderly to invest in "Robot Insurance"?

    Grandma: You're never safe, what with those robots around! Stealing your medication and running up your long distance minutes!
  • Otherwise I feel incredibly sorry for the techs that have to fix that.
  • There are frequent news stories about the damage that underground cable installers sometimes do to sewer mains, etc., causing people's basements to be flooded with human waste.

    I read an article about it very recently (I think it happened in Austin, TX), but kind find an online reference. This google cache [216.239.37.100] of a page seems to list lots of similar cases, though.
  • So I guess those of us with septic tanks are ONCE AGAIN left out of the technology revolution.

    Who knew the last mile the internet takes is the first mile my feces take. Hope the smile and wave at each other when passing (no pun intended).
  • ...you might be eaten up in a gruesome corporate takeover!
  • While we're at this, why dont we string in a pipe for beer beside the cable?

    Fast Internet+Beer=Happieness

    • While we're at this, why dont we string in a pipe for beer beside the cable?

      Fast Internet+Beer=Happieness


      Fast Internet+Beer=Bad spelling ;)
  • I've always wanted to have in internet connection in the bathroom, and when these robots are done I can just pull a cable out of the bowl!
  • What happens to that fiber during periodic sewer maintenance? I can just imagine what those roto-rooter blades will do to your connection!
    • I used to live in a high-rise in downtown Chicago, and when a new condo rose up on the next block, watched with fascination as they tore up the street, and "cut & spliced" the sewer pipes (and other cool service conduits).....I can't imagine any fiber runs surviving in the sewer lines the assault of rotary diamond saws and jackhammers.
  • Human decisions were removed from strategic defence. Sewernet began to learn at a geometric rate...

  • You come home from work, grab a newspaper, and discover that some script kiddie has a denial of service attack going on the john. "The... handle... is... stuck... down!!!! It... won't... flush..." Fantastic. I guess you would have to implement packet filtering.

    With my luck I'll get the job of servicing those sewage covered robots.

  • I showed this to my roommate who has had many a crap job ;) including honeydipper (cleaning out the nasty space under an outhouse when it gets full) and some sewer-side plumbing. He looked at those robots and said that they had a snowball's chance in hell of working in a real world situation. I trust his opinion over the engineers: exactly how many outhouses and sewers have they been in?
  • Is the 'twisty maze' thing a Zork reference?? It's been a long while.

    That said, I better get to work on a new packet filter. ;-)

    • Nope, Adventure ...
      You are in a Twisty Little Maze of Passages, All Different
      You are in a Little Twisty Maze of Passages, All Different
      You are in a Maze of Twisty Little Passages, All Different, etc.

      The problem really started when you got caught in a Twisty Little Maze of Passages, All Alike. Then you had to drop stuff in different rooms to tell them apart to map them. Geez - it seems like playing ASCII games was a couple of centuries ago ...

  • by zerofoo (262795) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @09:40PM (#4841105)
    How exactly, do you service a sewerpipe once it has fiber running through it?

    -ted
  • by PD (9577) <slashdotlinux@pdrap.org> on Sunday December 08, 2002 @10:24PM (#4841326) Homepage Journal
    You see, my house is located on the side of a hill, and it's actually lower in elevation than the sewer line on the street. I use an ejection pump to move the shit from a storage tank into the sewer. There is a valve in the sewer line just up from the ejection pump that prevents poo from the sewer from flowing the wrong way and erupting from the toilets. I wouldn't be very happy if a little sewer robot was going along saying "OK, 6513 is next to get a fiber connection. Hey? What's this? I'll just prop this little door open while I run the fiber line."
  • Thiis funny but (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dollyknot (216765) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @10:44PM (#4841393) Homepage
    From the comments it seems like people are only seeing the comical side to all this. In countries with established broadband networks it would have an uphill fight getting established. Where it will probably make inroads, is in towns around the world that don't already have a cheap highcoverage broadband infrastructure. The cost per mile figure is the one to watch, point being is sewage companies all ready use robots to inspect sewers in many countries. If the muncipal sewerage companies see that they can increase their revenue by using this technology, without an enormouse outlay of capital they will pitch their prices to beneath the prices of existing methods and money talks.

    I remember when they cabled my area, the cost must have run into millions, all those trenches, don't come cheap in terms of man hours. And is reflected in the price I pay for my broadband connection, those loans have to be paid back, plus interest.

    There will obviously be technical problems but technology usually finds ways around such things, padlocked manholes and such. Also by doing this we might end up with a better system of sewers, less effluent escape in to ground water would be a good thing, by putting the cable laying robot into the sewer means you can inspect the sewer as well as lay the cable.

    It will be price that will have the final say, especially in other countries that do not have a hangup about bodily functions
  • by grub (11606)

    .. the big concern now isn't backhoes ripping up cables, it's too much bran cereal in one's diet doing the damage.

  • by mtec (572168) on Monday December 09, 2002 @12:45AM (#4841907)
    ...and perhaps it shouldn't be.

    But the first thing I thought of when I read the article and saw a picture of the robot was ... terrorists, and how they could use 'em.

    Tell me I'm paranoid.
  • by deander2 (26173) <public&kered,org> on Monday December 09, 2002 @01:08AM (#4842005) Homepage

    Haha!

    When I saw their logo, with the 2 large "C"s, I first thought it said CueCat! :P

    I thought, "That's ironic, that's the same name as that OTHER company with a shitty business model!" :-D
  • Does anyone else here think it would be cool to just have one of those robots? Think of the inherent untility of having a smaller version fo one for running cables inside your own home, and the joys of attaching stuff to it so it could scare your relatives out of the house when they have overstayed their welcome!

    Robots rule!
  • by t0qer (230538) on Monday December 09, 2002 @02:12AM (#4842250) Homepage Journal
    A lot can be told from a person from their waste. You can tell what they eat, what kind of health they're in, what kinds of drugs are in their systems and if they're pregnant.

    It wouldn't take much to plant small sensors that could detect these things and more. For that matter a microphone could be run up the trap of your sink and you would never know it was there (how often do you take apart the trap?)

    As we begin this new age of homeland security and goverment paranoia, I saw something like this coming a long time ago. I bet we're not too far from law enforcement using these types of robots in survelience. To a judge, it shouldn't make any difference if a person goes inside a house and plants a wireless mic, or if a robot climbs up the sewers and does it.

    And these things are laying a network medium as they go, no problem reporting back to base what they've found.

    Think about that for a moment, then mod me.

    • A lot can be told from a person from their waste. You can tell what they eat, what kind of health they're in, what kinds of drugs are in their systems and if they're pregnant.

      I never thought I'd see the privacy question come full circle as regards the use of outhouses.

  • None of those robots look rugged enough for the job.

    Insituform [insituform.com] puts robots into sewers routinely. They have a clever technology for relining sewer pipes from the inside, without digging.

  • I think it's safe to say that thanks to these sewer-fiber-laying robots, all this plumbing is finally becoming "interactive".

  • This technology brings a new danger with it. What is to stop a person (or a robot-operator?) with malicious intent from splicing the (easily accessible) fiber and installing his/her own repeater station? All the traffic would be theirs....

    The other obvious danger, of course, are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

  • by stinky wizzleteats (552063) on Monday December 09, 2002 @11:16AM (#4843765) Homepage Journal

    Suddenly all that porn surfing doesn't seem so inappropriate anymore.

  • I work for a water and sewer utility. Here's some interesting background to consider:

    Sewer systems do rely on gravity --to get them to the nearest pumping station. Now where do you go? Wastewater stations are usually in some low lying area, some are close to or even inside a 100 year floodplain. Is this really a good place for a fiber switching center?

    Several of you mentioned that sewage leaks in to the ground water. Uhh folks, it goes both ways. The term we use for this phenomenon is infiltration and inflow. Often the problem isn't leakage in to the ground water, it's leakage of ground water in to the sewer and overloading wastewater treatement plants. Problems include tree roots cutting through sewer pipes, shifting soil, and pipe deterioration. I'll be impressed if a robot can negotiate all of that. We have enough trouble getting our sewer pipe TV cameras in there to investigate blockage problems.

    Someone is going to have to convince the sewer company that this extra volume of fiber in the sewer pipe isn't going to cause additional grease buildup, and isn't going to restrict flow. Many new and even the not-so-new suburban areas are stressing the capacity of existing sewer systems well beyond original design limits. Unless the system is very well maintained (it almost never is) or the pipe is very new and well below designed flow limits, I don't forsee many companies agreeing to this.

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