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Boulder Uses Robots To Search For Damage Under Drainage Areas

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – While crews in Boulder work to prevent more flooding from the spring thaw after last fall’s devastating flooding, the city is still trying to figure out just how much damage that rushing water caused underground.

The city is using robots to help them decide which areas need attention.

“It just floats down and there is a sonar out front that is basically taking instantaneous readings of what’s below the water surface elevation and then the camera is taking a picture of what’s above,” said Boulder Public Works spokesman Douglas Sullivan.

The robot also has laser capabilities to show the condition of the pipe walls.

The City of Boulder hired Red Zone Robotics for $175,000 to examine six miles of sanitary sewer pipes.

“It will give us a picture of the condition as a whole and then we can determine how best to spend the utility’s funding for rehabilitation projects,” said Sullivan.

With warmer weather and spring runoff underway Sullivan said they want to fix what may be damaged before more damage can occur.

“People have talked about the fact that the snowpack in the mountains is above 100 percent and that’s a component. Another component is the ground water right now is probably at all time levels,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan said the robotics should leave few unknowns about the extent of the damage the flooding caused underground.

The robotics project ended this week. The company will download the data and transfer it to a user-friendly format and send it to the city within the next month.

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