Gainesville's public utilities officials told council members about a new way to fix sewer problems, and the City Council plans to move forward with a $104,000 investment.
The new technology allows sewer workers to repair pipes without digging into the ground, said Joey Leverette, Gainesville's distribution and collection manager.
"The city and state put a lot of investment in their streets, and nothing pains us more than to see a new street paved and in a year we're cutting it up," he said.
"A lot of the sewer systems are deep, and when we get down 10-15 feet, there are safety concerns for our employees working in the trenches."
With the new process, sewer workers will first send a camera down a manhole and into the sewer line to identify and mark where the leak is.
They then send a polyurethane-coated plastic tube to the spot and use an air compressor to expand the tube to fit the space.
"It's like a stint that you put in arteries and blow up like a balloon," Leverette said, narrating a video he showed council members.
"It cures in an hour or two, and you never interrupt sewer flow, so we don't have to stop service. The customer never knows that we're there, and we can go back later and make sure the repair was correct."
The proposal will move to the council meeting agenda for Tuesday.
If approved, the public utilities department will purchase the equipment, train employees and begin using the new technology to repair sewers in several months.
"That's one of the biggest complaints I hear from citizens," said council member George Wangemann. "This is a very progressive move, and I think it'll save the city some serious money."
Leverette passed around a model of the finished product, which looks like a hardened tube of plastic.
"That is too cool," said council member Myrtle Figueras. "This is really interesting because people won't have to wait so long for a street to be fixed or for the digging to be repaired. It's worth doing."
The $104,000 cost includes a trailer that holds the air pressure tank and about 40 repair kits with the polyurethane coating and different sizes of plastic pipe.
The products come with a 50-year warranty, and approval of the project will help Gainesville's public utilities department to catch up with others in the state.
"This is a new technology, but not extremely new. It's been around about 15 years," Leverette said. "It just makes sense, and I think we can do it well. We have a stack of about 50 repairs that we'd like to do but they aren't hurting anything yet. We'll have to pace ourselves."