Crew Uses Robots to Check Sewer Pipes in Chula Vista

Inside a white truck parked along a road in the city of Chula Vista, two co-workers get ready to spend hours searching for debris from inside pipes without getting dirty.

Peggie Mazzeppi and Sergei Senoff may just have the best jobs in the city.

“I am doing a survey in a sewer main,” Mazzeppi explains.

That doesn’t sound enticing until you find out she does it using a robot and a hand-held videogame controller.

Mazzeppi isn’t a gamer although she said she feels like she is sometimes.

Joe Little/NBC 7
Peggie Mazzeppi uses a videogame controller to move the robot through the sewer pipes beneath Chula Vista.

Inside the truck, she steers the robot through a section of sewer and storm drain under ground while Senoff works outside of the truck to wrangle the robot.

“We're looking for roots, for grease, for collapsed pipe,” she explained.

Senoff admits a lot of people don’t know exactly what the pair does during the day.

They’re using a robot on the end of a long tether to make sure nothing is blocking the pipes. They flag the problem and another crew will return to clear the debris.

Knowing of a potential problem in advance, could save the city millions of dollars in repairs.

“Without it, they would have to wait for some catastrophic condition before they knew there was a problem somewhere,” Senoff said.

With approximately 515 miles of pipe within city limits, the crew said it takes about five years to finish a complete scan. 

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