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Council OKs request to replace city's sewer crawler, a technological marvel that checks pipes from the inside

The city-managed pipes of Canby have been kept under closer surveillance since 2009 thanks to an effective piece of equipment.

Unfortunately, the city's first sewer pipe crawler, a tiny technological marvel that can be deployed through the city's pipe systems to find problems or potential problems, is set to retire. The device, which was purchased in 2009, will soon be replaced after the Canby City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance to authorize purchase of a new sewer crawler at its Oct. 20 meeting.

FILE PHOTO - Though not the exact model the Canby City Council agreed to purchase, it's an example of a sewer pipe crawler that will replace the one purchased more than a decade ago.

"It's a pipe camera for our storm and sanitary sewer system," City Administrator Scott Archer explained. "It's used regularly. Our current camera was manufactured in 2009 and had outlived its lifespan. And so, this is a critical piece of equipment that our public works operations use for viewing the inside of pipes and looking at our system to find problems and issues that may arise."

The price of the new sewer crawler will be $107,116, most of which is tied up in the intricate and powerful technology the device uses.

Councilor Chris Bangs moved to accept the first reading and the motion to purchase, depending on the second reading at the Nov. 3 council meeting, was passed 5-0.

But Bangs wasn't done with the device. Motivated by an admitted curiosity as he'd never seen one, Bangs asked about the size of the device.

"They are not particularly large," Archer explained, "and they are typically attached to a system of wires. The cost is in the technical abilities. It has to remote to a screen."

Mayor Brian Hodson expanded on the description, describing it as "almost like a remote-control crawler that goes up into the pipes" in and around the city. "It was used a lot, I believe, when First Avenue was opened up because there were a number of pipes and things that led to nowhere. They were using the device to scope those pipes to find out where they'd go or not go."

Hodson added that the device was also used to detect leaks or invasive plants that would block the pipes. By pinpointing where the issue was, the city didn't have to tear up yards of grass or street to try to find the problem.

Hodson noted that the city used to have a public works day where they would close the street around the old city hall and Public Works "brought out all their toys," including the sewer crawler.

"It had its own truck with screens and computers to control it. Your curiosity, Councilor Bangs, is warranted. it is kind of cool. It makes looking at pipes a little more interesting, Hodson said."

Archer added that he would try to find a photo or two of the device in question to give councilors a better perspective what it looked like.

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