Singing sewer technology saves water for Utah

Sep 27, 2022, 7:04 PM | Updated: 7:04 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Technology being used underground across Utah is saving the state a lot of water.

In Utah, 60 cities use the sewer line rapid assessment tool or SL-RAT, and RH Borden and Co. President Jon Borden said that number is growing. His company is the service provider of the technology for the state.

“Using this technology, we can be much more conservation-minded and really save a lot of water for the state,” he said.

The SL-RAT keeps crews above ground and the dirty work down below.

“We have this problem with overflows. The sewer will back up because of fat, oils, and grease and will cause the water to come out,” said Dr. Ivan Howitt, the inventor.

He created the singing technology to find a more efficient way to select pipes that need to be cleaned or have maintenance work done.

“There’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-20,000 miles of sewer pipe in the state of Utah,” Alex Churchill, president of Infosense, said. His company manufactures the SL-RATs.

Churchill said the majority of those pipes don’t need to be cleaned.

“Estimated water use in Utah is 130 million gallons per year,” Borden said.

That’s if crews are using the traditional method to test whether a pipe is blocked or collapsed.

“If we use acoustics, we can cut that down to 13, so just one-tenth of what we’re currently using,” he said. “That saves us 117 million gallons of water.”

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Magna was the first city in Utah to adopt this technology. Since then, Borden has been gathering data on how much water it’s saved the state.

“I love the outdoors, I have a family, I love to take my kids out there,” he said. “When I think about what could happen if we don’t properly watch our water usage, it’s pretty dramatic to me.”

It also cuts down on emissions. Using the SL-RAT, trucks don’t have to idle for hours every day.

“In traditional ways, it would take 260 truck days to clean 100 miles; we can pair that down to 26 truck days,” Borden explained.

It’s a process that’s out of sight, out of mind for most people, but once they hear it and hear about the millions of gallons of water it saves, it means more.

“I want this beautiful state to be in place for years to come, so it’s very rewarding to say I’m doing a little bit to help out on that whole puzzle that we’re all struggling with,” Borden said.

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Singing sewer technology saves water for Utah