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Lakewood Buys Drone to Monitor Sewer Runoff into Lake Erie

Thursday, December 26, 2013 at 4:12 PM

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Lakewood public works director Joe Beno holds the city's drone. (photo from Mayor Mike Summers' Twitter account)

The city of Lakewood has bought its first drone. ideastream’s Nick Castele reports the city’s mayor wants to use this remote-controlled flying camera to study how water flows from the city's water pipes into Lake Erie.

When it rains in Lakewood – and rains a lot – stormwater flows directly into Lake Erie, carrying sewage along with it. It’s a problem across Northeast Ohio. The city’s under pressure from the state and federal EPA to come up with a solution.

Mayor Mike Summers says Lakewood is studying erosion along the shore and the path water takes out of the city’s aging pipes and into the lake—an effort he says the EPA requires.

So for about $1,500, the city bought a video camera mounted on a small body held aloft by four mini-helicopter blades. City workers can stream video live on a phone or tablet.

Summers says using a drone will be safer and cheaper than the old method, which was to send workers rappelling down the cliffs over the lake to see what they can see.

“This technology, of course, is emerging rapidly and allows us to send a video camera and fly it around and spot things,” Summers said. “And the worst case, if something happens to the drone, it’s $1,500 and not somebody’s life or limb.”

Summers says this is the first drone the city has bought, and he’s hoping to use it soon.

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