News Briefs: Utility Worker Trapped for 6 Hours in Trench Collapse

Also in this week's sewer and water news, Flint, Michigan's water infrastructure is near 'catastrophic failure' from neglect, according to officials

A 27-year-old worker in Harris County, Texas, says being trapped for six hours in a collapsed trench was the scariest event of his life.

The worker, Chris Gerhardt, was part of a two-person crew repairing a sewer line. A backhoe operator instructed him to go into the trench to inspect the line, but there wasn’t proper shoring equipment in place.

“I expressed multiple times that I was concerned about it,” Gerhardt tells Click2Houston News. “He told me we had to get it done, basically.”

Shortly after entering the hole, a wall collapsed and buried him up to his chest. Another wall collapsed on him while the 911 call was made. Rescue personnel had to get proper shoring in place to stabilize the trench before finally digging Gerhardt out.

“If the back wall would have fallen on me that was directly behind me, that would have been it,” he tells Click2Houston.

Wipes Regularly Clogging Miami-Dade Sewers    

So-called flushable wipes are in the news again — this time clogging the sewer systems in Miami-Dade (Florida) Water and Sewer Department.

A sewer inspection technician named Jose Valladares showed CBS4 News camera footage of how bad the blockages have become.

“The grease, the wipes they throw down the toilet, that’s what they create when you put that all together,” says Valladares. “It adds up like I said, the rags.”

Rags are classified by WASD as items that do not break down in sewer water including paper towels, clothing, hair, female products, hygiene products, and wipes: both nonflushable and flushable.

He claims 18 years ago when he started the job they’d only have to unclog one of the pipes at a time on a monthly basis. These days, it’s often three times a week and it’s a job that takes about five hours.

Flint Water Infrastructure Near Catastrophic Failure Level of Neglect, Say Officials

Among the proposed water infrastructure projects in Flint, Michigan, are improvements to a major pump station that could costs millions of dollars to fix if it fails.

The city’s wastewater control manager, Jeannette Best, tells a failure at the pump station could take out the entire northwest section of the city.

“We’ve arrived at the end of the road where we’re going to have a catastrophic failure if we don’t try to fix some of these major projects,” Public Works Director Rob Bincsik tells


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