Sewer pipe inspections are currently conducted by professionals who remotely control a robot from above ground. This expensive and slow approach is prone to human mistakes. Therefore, there is both an economic and scientific interest in automating the inspection process by creating systems able to recognize sewer defects. However, the extent of research put into automatic water level estimation in sewers has been limited despite being a prerequisite for further analysis of the pipe as only sections above the water level can be visually inspected. In this work, we utilize a dataset of still images obtained from over 5000 inspections carried out for three different Danish water utilities companies. This dataset is used for training and testing decision tree methods and convolutional neural networks (CNNs) for automatic water level estimation. We pose the estimation problem as a classification and regression problem, and compare the results of both approaches. Furthermore, we compare the effect of using different inspection standards for labeling the ground truth water level. By treating the problem as a classification task and using the 2015 Danish sewer inspection standard, where water levels are clustered based on visual appearance, we achieve an averaged F1 score of 79.29% using a fine-tuned ResNet-50 CNN. This shows the potential of using CNNs for water level estimation. We believe including temporal and contextual information will improve the results further.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3412
Issue number12
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2020


  • Water Level
  • Sewer
  • Computer Vision
  • CNN
  • Sewer Pipes
  • Sewer inspection


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