“Out of sight, out of mind” is how most city-dwellers think of sewer infrastructure. There are over one million miles of public and private sewer lines in the U.S. that drain out waste and drive stormwater into the urban water cycle. These drainage systems are an essential artery of a city, necessary to maintain public health, and protect the environment from pollution. Climate change and urbanization have impacted aging sewer systems. With an aging workforce and new demands from increased runoff, cities need new solutions for sewer maintenance.

Hades technology improves sewer maintenance by decreasing the need for often erroneous manual inspections. It’s a new solution that saves time and money. “Now is a critical time to fix sewers,” says Dominik Boller, co-founder of Hades. “Our aim is to help operators maintain their sewers and contribute to making cities more sustainable and resilient.” 

An example of automatically detected defects in a sewer pipe via the Hades technology.

The time to implement these changes is now.  Hades, an URBAN-X Cohort 07 startup, applies deep learning techniques to analyze sewer inspection footage against a database of sewer data from across the world. Their system can be used to alert communities of failing sewer lines and help detect  problems before they occur. Their cloud platform keeps records and makes recommendations accessible to multiple stakeholders.

The problem with sewers run deep. The first sewer lines in cities were installed before toilets were invented. More recent sewer lines were not designed to support the density of modern cities. For instance, some older sewer systems carry sewage and rainwater through the same sewer lines. As climate change creates unpredictable rain, storm water floods the underground systems and forces sewage into rivers, lakes, and bays requiring water treatment facilities to work harder to produce safe drinking water. Earlier this year, sewer line breaks pumped more than 200 million gallons of raw sewage into Biscayne Bay, surrounding waterways, and streets in south Florida. These same issues are echoed globally from Mexico City  to the Philippines.

Dominik Boller, is a co-founder of Hades.

This year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency loosened its mandates on upgrades, siding with cities who argued a full overhaul of aging sewer systems would be too costly to bear. The EPA estimated that $271 billion is needed to maintain and improve the nation’s wastewater infrastructure, with $92.5 billion allocated to sewers alone. 

By minimizing the cost of inspections and identifying preventative maintenance, cities can help dismantle the time bomb that is flooding city infrastructure. That’s why Hades is already at work in Europe and is expanding into the U.S. Hades understands that ignoring failing sewer systems can have grave implications for our soil, water supply, and the health of all urban residents.  

Learn more about Hades at hades.ai.