The deliberate process of standards-setting can be hard pressed to keep up with innovation, and the robotic installation of fiber-optic cable in existing sewers is a prime example.

Two groups have formed technical committees. The Water Environment Federation, Arlington, Va., and the forum for developing voluntary consensus standards, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, Pa., will consider issues raised by the cable installation technology. Jey K. Jeyapalan is soliciting comments for WEF at

Issues already raised include concerns about the need to test the effects of cables and fasteners on the hydraulic characteristics of sewers, their effect on monitoring, operation, maintenance, and renovation tools and techniques, and their long-term behavior in the corrosive environment.

Other issues include contractual ones, such as termination provisions between municipalities and cable companies, liability questions and protections available to cities if their fiber-optic partners go out of business and leave installed lines behind.