January 2016 Vol. 71 No. 1


NASSCO Standard Bearers: Harold Kosova

This month, NASSCO honors Harold Kosova and his many contributions to the rehabilitation industry. Kosova was born in 1935 in Chicago and graduated from DeVry Technical Institute. His career began at National Power Rodding Corp. in 1960 and continued until he retired as president in mid-2014. National Power Rodding Corp. is part of the Carylon Corporation, the largest private environmental services corporation in the United States. Kosova was instrumental in developing many technologies and methods the industry now takes for granted. He has made a significant impact on our industry and we are grateful for his insight and commitment to setting standards.

After 54 years in the trenchless industry, I’ve just about seen it all. When I first joined National Power Rodding Corp. in 1960, the company was taking photos of the inside of sewer lines with 35 mm cameras. The camera would travel three feet, shoot off a shot, then travel three more feet, and so on. It was an inefficient and laborious process.

The problem was that there was no capability for instantaneous observation of the photos we took of the sewer. In fact, there was no rapid photo development available anywhere at that time. We had to send the roll of 35 mm. film out for processing and it was processed two or three weeks later! In addition, the finished photos were often unclear, obscuring an accurate view of the sewer because the camera was often pushing through dirt, rock and steam in the sewer line.

National Power Rodding saw the need for better assessment tools and asked what I could do to enable the company to televise inside sewer lines, which would be a real innovation for the industry. National Power supplied me with the necessary budget and resources and in 1960 I developed the first TV camera to inspect sewer lines. Compared to today’s technology it had a long way to go, but back then it was groundbreaking.

The camera was 5.5-inches in diameter with three bulbs inside that illuminated the sewer line. The cable was ¾-inches or more in diameter and we could run it 1,000 feet at a time. There were 28 conductors inside and each had to be soldered into a connector that would bring back signals to the camera. Every once in a while the camera unit would go astray and we would have to tune into the camera control unit with an oscilloscope, which took up to three hours. We put outboard lighting on top of the camera when we would go into much larger lines. This was all new to us. We even had to learn how to build a skid to pull the
camera through the lines.

Technology advances

So much changed after that. Transistors came about, cameras were made smaller, and the cable size dropped to 5/16 inch in diameter. Newer cameras could operate up to 4,000 feet of cable, and we no longer needed a camera control unit. The images were now available in color versus black and white, which gave us depth perception of what we were seeing in the lines. As time went on, we also incorporated a zoom capability that enabled us to look further down the pipe or zoom in to see what was going on.

Over the years we gained knowledge and expertise in sewer line inspection and recognized additional, new services we could provide, so we turned our focus to developing new tools and processes to repair underground pipes without digging up streets. One of those new technologies was chemical grouting.

American Cyanimide Corporation was a company involved in the chemical business. They developed a substance which jelled upon application to metal, concrete or other surfaces, sealing any leaks. This marked the birth of chemical grout, which National Power

Rodding soon had the opportunity to prove could greatly help solve water infiltration problems.

In 1962, National Power Rodding was asked to help a contractor in Kansas with obvious water infiltration in an 8-inch sewer line that was buried 25-feet deep on the side of a hill. After identifying the leakage, we applied chemical grout. Afterwards, we televised the line and found that all of the leaking joints had sealed. We recognized chemical grouting as an important new trenchless technology solution, and upon return to our Chicago office, immediately began to build the first truck with a chemical grouting studio inside. By 1963 we were able to offer grouting services to municipalities, to solve their infiltration problems in sewer lines and manholes.
In 1968 we moved on to the development of more effective coatings for the application to the walls of manholes. Until that time, concrete was the only coating available to the industry. With our knowledge and experience, we were able to pioneer the successful use of various epoxy coatings, which are now readily available to the industry.
Other technologies developed very quickly from there, including Insituform’s introduction of pipe lining, which enhances the structural integrity of a sewer line by forming a new pipe within a host pipe. The problem was that everyone thought once you lined a pipe, the problems would go away. Truth is the small annular space all the way around from the outside of the liner to the inside of the host pipe can experience infiltration at the service connection. We developed a modified grouting packer that goes through the sewer line and extends into the service connection to that space to prevent infiltration.

The list of technologies goes on and on, and NASSCO plays a big part in staying on the cutting edge to meet the needs and demands for underground infrastructure. When I began with NASSCO, there were just eight of us, now there are more than 550 member companies. I believe the growth of trenchless technologies and the commitment to set standards can be attributed, in part, to the non-competitive nature of NASSCO. Contractors who may not communicate with each other out in the field because of competing interests forget all that when it comes to doing what is best for our industry through NASSCO.

The past 54 years with National Power Rodding has been an exciting trip for me and I am thankful that NASSCO embraces all of the technologies – and even more – that I had the good fortune to help develop. Setting standards to make sure the work is done right, and training engineers and inspectors to know what to look for, is key to the preservation and future success of all technologies.

For more information:
NASSCO, nassco.org

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