In Ontario, Canada, many local and provincial authorities have regulations and guidelines in place that require contractors to conduct Closed Circuit Television Video (CCTV) inspections on existing sanitary and storm sewer systems if any construction is to take place near or overtop of these utilities. Especially if the construction activities include excavation, heavy machinery, excessive ground vibrations, or soil movement. The purpose of the regulations and guidelines is to protect the structural integrity, functionality and safety of underground sewer infrastructure. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of CCTV inspections and why they are a crucial investment for construction projects.
The Negative Impacts of Construction on Existing Sewer Infrastructure
Construction activities can often impact the structural integrity and functionality of nearby sewer systems, which can have detrimental effects on the environment and public health. Here are a few examples of the potential consequences that construction activities can have on nearby sewer infrastructure:
- Infrastructure conflict: Construction projects that involve the installation of new utilities or amenities can come into conflict with existing sewer or storm systems if the exact location of these essential services is unknown. Accidental damage during excavation, trenching or boring can lead to costly utility repairs and disruptions and potential legal disputes with the relevant utility owner.
- Damage to the infrastructure: Excavation, the weight of heavy machinery, or even the vibrations from construction activities can lead to pipe cracks, joint displacement, or collapses which can result in leaks, blockages, and even complete failure of the sewer or stormwater system.
- Flow disruption: Heavy construction can disturb the ground and create trenches, which can allow rainwater or surface runoff to infiltrate into sewer lines through cracks or damaged sections. This additional water can disrupt flow and overload the system, leading to sewer backups, overflows, and increased stress on pump stations and treatment plants during intense rainfall events.
- Contamination risks: Construction activities near sewer lines can cause excessive ground vibrations or soil movement that can cause joint displacement or separation in sewer and storm pipes. This can result in sewage leaks and infiltration of groundwater or outside debris or pollutants entering the sewer systems, leading to water contamination. This is a significant health hazard and can pollute nearby water bodies, groundwater, and surrounding areas.
- Flooding and drainage issues: Construction activities can contribute large amounts of sediment, debris and waste to local drainage systems. This can disrupt the natural flow of stormwater which can lead to flooding and damage to the underground infrastructure. If water is not adequately channelled away from the project site, it can cause damage to the property and surrounding areas.
If any structural damage occurs to these essential services during construction, contractors can be held responsible for the repairs and associated costs. This includes potential penalties, insurance claims, or fines for non-compliance with regulations or permits.
To mitigate the impacts, contractors need to implement proper precautions, such as utility identification and condition assessment, careful excavation, and appropriate shoring or bracing techniques, to minimize the risks of infrastructure damages occurring during construction. This is why it is necessary to have existing sanitary and storm sewer infrastructure buried beneath the project site inspected and mapped by an experienced and professional CCTV sewer inspection company.
What is CCTV Inspection?
A CCTV inspection is a trenchless, reliable and cost-effective method for providing a real-time visual condition assessment of sewer and stormwater infrastructure. During a CCTV inspection, sewer cameras are inserted into sewer and storm pipes to capture photo images and video footage of the interior conditions. The images and footage help identify issues such as broken, collapsed, corroded, cracked, and disjointed pipes as well as any blockages like settlement of debris, invasion of tree roots, and other potential deficiencies that may impact the system’s performance. These conditions are recorded, scored, and documented by qualified technicians. The data collected is then interpreted and presented in a highly visual, detailed report, categorizing and labelling the precise locations of defects and other problem areas.
When should a CCTV Inspection be performed?
When it comes to construction projects, a CCTV inspection of existing underground sewer networks on the project site should be performed before and after construction activities take place.
A pre-construction CCTV inspection is typically carried out to gather data on the existing conditions of the sewer and storm systems before any construction work begins. By conducting these inspections, contractors can obtain a baseline assessment of the infrastructure’s exact location and condition, identify existing defects and potential concerns, and determine the optimal course of action for the construction project.
A post-construction CCTV inspection is to be conducted after construction work has been completed. These inspections are essential to check for any defects or issues that may have arisen during the construction process. This enables contractors to swiftly implement corrective actions if needed to minimize liability and avoid more expensive and disruptive repairs in the future.
What are the requirements of a CCTV Inspection?
It’s important to note that the specific requirements for pre and post-construction CCTV inspections of sewer and stormwater systems may vary depending on local regulations and project specifications. It is advisable to consult with local authorities or industry experts to obtain accurate and up-to-date information regarding the specific requirements for pre and post-construction CCTV inspections of the sewer and stormwater systems on your project site. One requirement that is certain when it comes to the CCTV inspection report, provincial and local authorities will require the contractor performing the work to submit NASSCO-compliant reports, and that the operator performing the CCTV inspections be NASSCO-certified.
NASSCO (National Association of Sewer Service Companies) sets industry standards and guidelines for sewer and pipeline inspection, assessment, and rehabilitation. Compliance with NASCO standards ensures that contractors and sewer service companies adhere to consistent and reliable inspection practices. Compliance with these regulations helps to minimize any potential negative impacts on the sewer and stormwater systems and surrounding area, as well as help stakeholders maintain accurate records and documentation.
Why it is essential to perform a pre-construction CCTV inspection?
Performing a CCTV inspection before construction is an essential step in ensuring the integrity, functionality and safety of existing sewer systems are protected during construction. Here are several reasons why a pre-construction CCTV inspection is crucial to the construction project:
- More efficient planning: By inspecting the sewer systems using CCTV technology, contractors can identify the potential conflicts between heavy equipment and the underground sewer or drainage infrastructure. This allows contractors to adjust the construction plans if required, and allocate sufficient resources for utility protection measures to result in a smoother construction process and overall cost-effectiveness of the project.
- Reduce costly delays: By inspecting the sewer systems before construction begins, contractors can identify any existing or potential issues that may arise during the construction process. This allows them to plan and budget for any necessary repairs, modifications, or rerouting of sewer lines, preventing costly damages and disruptions during the construction phase.
- Prevent damage: Construction activities, such as drilling, excavation or heavy equipment can cause significant damage to the underground sewer and storm pipes if they come into contact with them. A CCTV inspection can help identify the exact location, size and condition of the underground infrastructure so that operators work with caution and avoid potential damage, costly repairs, and service disruptions during the construction process.
- Preserve future integrity of sewers: The quantity and quality of stormwater discharged from a construction site varies according to the stage of construction. As erosion from the site increases, the stormwater runoff volume, sediment and debris entering the system increases. Contractors can use CCTV sewer inspection to evaluate the capacity and load of existing storm lines. This information helps contractors to effectively take precautionary measures to ensure that the proposed construction project won’t overload the sewer system and cause future problems.
- Enhance project documentation: A CCTV inspection allows contractors to create a record of the pre-existing conditions, including any defects or damages that were present before the contractor starts any work. This documentation can be essential for liability purposes and can help to settle any disputes that may arise during or after construction.
- Comply with regulations: Pre-construction CCTV inspections help contractors comply with local regulations and guidelines related to sewer systems. By inspecting and documenting the condition of the sewer lines, contractors can demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements, avoiding any potential legal or financial consequences.
Overall, prioritizing a pre-construction CCTV inspection in construction projects brings numerous advantages, including improved project planning and efficiency, cost savings, regulatory compliance, and protection.
Why it is important to perform a post-construction CCTV inspection?
Performing a CCTV inspection of sewer systems after construction activities occur is just as important. They help ensure the efficiency, longevity and environmental sustainability of these systems are maintained. Here are a few reasons a post-construction CCTV inspection is vital to the construction project:
- Prevents future problems: A CCTV inspection can identify any damages, defects or blockages that may have occurred as a result of construction activities. This allows contractors to promptly address any issues before they worsen or cause further damage. By taking immediate action, contractors can mitigate their liability, saving themselves time and money in the long run.
- Quality control: Construction debris or materials may find their way into the sewer system during the construction process. These substances can potentially cause blockages or hinder the proper functioning of the pipes. A CCTV sewer inspection ensures that the sewer lines are clear and flowing optimally after construction.
- Enhancing reputation and trust: Conducting a CCTV inspection after construction demonstrates a commitment to quality work and attention to detail. This can enhance the contractor’s reputation among clients, regulatory agencies, and the community, leading to increased trust and potential future business opportunities.
- Liability protection: In case of any disputes or insurance claims related to damages, pre and post-construction CCTV footage and inspection reports act as crucial evidence. The recordings help establish the condition of the sewer system before and after construction. These records can be used to prove the post-construction condition of the sewer system is indifferent to the pre-construction condition, enabling contractors to protect themselves from false claims or allegations of negligence, as well as support their arguments in case of insurance or liability claims.
It’s worth noting that CCTV inspections alone may not completely eliminate contractor liability, but they do provide significant evidence and documentation that can help protect contractors and demonstrate their adherence to best practices and regulatory requirements.
In summary, leveraging CCTV inspections in construction is valuable for maintaining the performance of underground sewer infrastructure and demonstrates compliance with local municipal and provincial regulations. Contractors are required to conduct these inspections to establish that they are following the required protocols and maintaining the infrastructure in good condition. However, performing a CCTV inspection before and after construction takes place offers so much more. They enable contractors to have a better understanding of the underground infrastructure to plan construction activities more effectively, reduce project delays, save costs, and help protect the construction project and contractor from potential disputes that may arise during or after construction is complete.
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