Reservoir inspection using remote underwater drone


USA Reservoir Inspection | Clark Public Utilities (CPU) is committed to providing customers with the most reliable, affordable service possible. But a lot has to go on behind the scenes to make that happen. As a publicly-owned utility in Vancouver, Wash., it is committed to bringing the community of more than 193,000 customers the most reliable and affordable electricity and water services possible. With this in mind, CPU sought after the means to keep their services online while conducting routine safety and maintenance inspections of its 35 water reservoirs.

In the past, these reservoirs would have needed to be drained in order to have them safely inspected by an individual; some of these reservoirs would have as much as 3 million gallons of water to empty. With these tanks offline, fire flow service to the communities would be reduced for a limited time. If interrupting the service was not enough, there is also an associated cost to draining and then refilling these tanks.

The average reservoir contains 660,000 gal which equals approximately $1,632 worth of water for the community; adding the cost factor of draining and filling the tank which could take up to 16 hours, an average reservoir inspection would cost upwards of $3,000. That is just the average tank; as mentioned before, Clark Public Utilities even has a 3 million gallon reservoir which would have $7,420 worth of deliverable water stored within it.

Continually shutting down the tanks to conduct their routine inspections had become a costly affair which is why they were looking for options to keep their supply in operation; all while maintaining the highest of standards in quality services for their communities. This led them to Deep Trekker; a manufacturer of submersible inspection Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) otherwise known as underwater drones.

Deep Trekker’s ideal reservoir inspection tool called the DTG2 ROV is commonly being used to inspect hydroelectric dams, reservoirs, and potable water systems across the United States. What makes this unit so perfect for conducting these inspections is its portability. With built-in lithium batteries, there is no need to drag around a topside generator to power the ROV. This compact yet robust system has the ability to be deployed from anywhere and operate up to 8 hours on a 90-minute charge.


With the purchase of the underwater drone, Clark Public Utilities was able to overcome the challenges faced during inspections. “Some of our reservoirs are in a pressure zone with no other reservoir,” explains Dan Charlson, the water quality manager at CPU. “It’s extra work to set up the pumping system to maintain pressure to our customers while we drain a reservoir.” The ROV gives the capability of conducting routine inspections and keeping the reservoirs online; ensuring there is no interruption of service to the community.

Innovative Additions to the Deep Trekker

Additionally, during a few of the inspections with the Deep Trekker ROV, operators discovered some floating debris within the reservoir. “We saw them on the camera,” stated Charlson. He was referring to the onboard high definition camera on the ROV; the video is transmitting a live feed to a lightweight, handheld controller. From the surface, an operator is able to record their findings for further review or document the overall health of the reservoir.

To collect the debris, a boom was retrofitted to the underwater drone and used to gather and push the debris fragments toward the hatch for removal with a pool net.

With this addition to the Deep Trekker Remotely Operated Vehicle, during both routine inspections and debris removal, Clark Public Utilities have kept the tanks online; successively lowering operational costs and keeping the rates low for customers.

The Clark Public Utilities staff using the ROV are thoroughly impressed with the level of service provided by Deep Trekker’s team and plans to continue to use the underwater drone for all future inspections.

From the very beginning, Deep Trekker has set out to create a tool that would allow those who were previously unable to observe the underwater world the chance to do so by providing an affordable and easy to use underwater camera. As interest in the camera systems built over the years, Deep Trekker has expanded the product line to include various ROV packages, models such as the larger 4-vectored thruster system, the DTX2 ROV, and even introduce a portable pipe crawler system for municipal water inspections.

About Deep Trekker

Deep Trekker Inc. was founded in 2010 with a mission to create portable, affordable, and easy to use underwater inspection tools. The company is headquartered in Ontario Canada, with engineering and manufacturing all completed in house.  Based on a clean sheet design, the premiere product, the DTG2 ROV was introduced in limited run in August 2011. With the success of the DTG2 ROV system, the company launched the DTX2 ROV in 2015. These robust underwater ROVs are currently being used around the world in industries such as aquaculture, commercial diving, municipalities, police search and rescue, military, and research. In 2016, the company expanded the municipalities market by launching a submersible pipe crawler system, based on the same principles of the ROV systems.

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