July 2021 Vol. 76 No. 7


City’s Proactive Approach to Minimizing Localized Flooding

Ask Chris LaCroix what his crews have found in the storm and sanitary sewers of the city of Lake Charles, La., and you’ll get a wide range of answers. 

“We’ve found a little bit of everything down there,” said LaCroix, chief engineer for Atakapa Services. “It’s amazing what makes its way into a city’s sewage and storm drain system.” 

In late 2017, the city of Lake Charles contracted with Atakapa Services to develop a comprehensive drainage inspection and cleaning program. Inspecting, cleaning and rehabilitating an aging storm drain system was important to Mayor Nicholas Hunter, and since then he has kept it a priority of his administration. 

“Working closely with the city’s engineering department, we are attacking hot spots that experience chronic flooding during typical-to-heavy rain events” said LaCroix. “For each area, we are cleaning, inspecting and making rehabilitation recommendations to the city.” 

Ultimately, the city takes the rehab recommendations, along with the inspection videos of the inside of the pipes and the reports generated from that information, and works with local Lake Charles’ consultants and engineers to develop rehab projects based on Atakapa’s inspections. 

“It’s not like the pipe is being cleaned and inspected and then our videos are put on the shelf,” LaCroix pointed out. “The city is proactively bidding out rehab projects to fix what we’re finding out there in the field. And citizens are noticing.” 

Curious residents 

According to LaCroix, Atakapa crews are often approached by curious homeowners and asked what they are doing. After all, most haven’t seen a Camel cleaning truck, CCTV inspection van or the Subsite Electronics cameras and transporters Atakapa crews are running through the pipes. 

“We’re wellequipped,” said Hayden Case, project engineer for Atakapa. “In addition to the cleaning truck, we’ve got custom-outfitted CCTV vans by Subsite, each with three different camera/transporter systems onboard. We have a TranStar for 6- to 30-inch pipe, a storm drain tractor for 24-inch pipes and larger, and a lateral launch system that gives us the ability to launch a lateral from the mainline with a single unit – that’s a great feature.” 

“We supply equipment to Atakapa,” said Jeff Patterson, president of Patterson Equipment. “They’ve been impressed with the Subsite Utility Inspection Systems. Besides having the industry’s only two-year transporter warranty and the only cable warranty period – five years – the crews love the features and performance. 

“From the versatility of being able to center the cameras in the pipes with motorized lifts, to the incredible strength of the SinCon cable, they say running this equipment is more productive and saves a lot of possible downtime.” 

Since the city has initiated this program, over 250,000 feet of storm and sanitary sewer system pipe has been cleaned and inspected. Mayor Hunter is excited about the program results. 

“This systematic, targeted approach to assessing and improving drainage citywide was implemented shortly after I became mayor,” Hunter commented. “I’m very impressed with the results thus far. We have cleaned numerous lines and identified issues that have required engineered solutions. Our city is draining better now because of this program.” 

Stay the course 

The mayor further stated that he intends to continue with the program for the foreseeable future, as a proactive approach that provides tangible results continues to be a top priority. 

Atakapa Services specializes in cleaning, inspecting, maintaining and designing rehabilitation methods for sanitary sewer and storm drain infrastructure. It works with municipalities, wastewater utility contractors and engineering firms to renew and maintain their underground wastewater infrastructure. The Atakapa team is comprised of NASSCO-certified professionals and eight professional engineers with over 40 years of experience in all aspects of SSES and rehabilitation. 

Founded in 2008, Patterson Equipment leverages decades of experience to meet customer needs in equipment sales, service and support. 

Subsite Electronics is a leading source of electronic technology to support the installation, maintenance and inspection of underground pipe and cable.

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