The phrase ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ is usually an overstatement, but that’s not the case in Pittsburg, Kan. “Now we have the kitchen sink,” says utilities director John Bailey.
City crews were doing regular inspections of a section of sewer line when they found a computer, TV, microwave and stainless steel kitchen sink lodged between two manholes. “We couldn’t get our CUES TV equipment through the line,” says Bailey.
“We were in that sewer a year ago with the CCTV camera and it was clear, so sometime in the last year someone decided to start putting things down that sewer.”
The section of sewer where the objects were found is located in a remote area near a recycling center that accepts the types of items that were dumped into the sewer. “My suspicion is that people simply don’t have any appreciation for what happens,” says Bailey. “It’s out of sight and out of mind.”
The lack of respect for the sewer system from citizens has forced the city to replace all the manhole lids in the area of this incident with locking manhole covers. There are about five lids that are the most problematic, Bailey says. Taxpayers will cover the cost. City workers have been confronted with people dumping garbage in the sewer system in the past, but this case has been the most expensive.
“We’ll continue to monitor the manholes and see if people continue to abuse them,” says Bailey.
The items were found before any real damage occurred. “Luckily, we’ve been pretty dry this summer so we haven’t had any large flows,” says Bailey. “But water could have backed up into people’s basements and presented a real public health problem.”
The city was able to get the majority of the large objects out and completely open up the sanitary sewer. “The kitchen sink presented a real dilemma because it was about halfway between the manholes,” says Bailey. “What we finally did was engage a private contractor and set up a winch arrangement and got a cable through from one manhole to the next. We were able to retrieve the sink by working it backwards.”
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