Research Note: Mapping spatial patterns in sewer age, material, and proximity to surface waterways to infer sewer leakage hotspots

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May 03, 2017
Hopkins, K. G., and Bain, D. J.



Identifying areas where deteriorating sewer infrastructure is in close proximity to surface waterways is needed to map likely connections between sewers and streams. We present a method to estimate sewer installation year and deterioration status using historical maps of the sewer network, parcel-scale property assessment data, and pipe material. Areas where streams were likely buried into the sewer system were mapped by intersecting the historical stream network derived from a 10-m resolution digital elevation model with sewer pipe locations. Potential sewer leakage hotspots were mapped by identifying where aging sewer pipes are in close proximity (50-m) to surface waterways. Results from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA), indicated 41% of the historical stream length was lost or buried and the potential interface between sewers and streams is great. The co-location of aging sewer infrastructure (>75 years old) near stream channels suggests that 42% of existing streams are located in areas with a high potential for sewer leakage if sewer infrastructure fails. Mapping the sewer-stream interface provides an approach to better understand areas were failing sewers may contribute a disproportional amount of nutrients and other pathogens to surface waterways.

Read the article in Landscape and Urban Planning.



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