SAWS workers discover strange items in sewer pipes

SAWS warns debris causes clogs


Even veteran employees of the San Antonio Water System are amazed at the items they find in sewer pipes and warn customers only to flush appropriate items.

SAWS crews frequently send cameras into sewer pipes to check for obstructions and their video and photos turn up some interesting items down there.

Beyond rats, roaches and turtles, they've seen what looks like a floating hand.

That video exposed what turned out to be a rubber glove that was filled with air and was floating amidst the water, sewage and other debris.

SAWS Senior Analyst Gregg Eckhardt said that is not even close to the weirdest things found in the sewer.

"It's all manner of things, from shopping carts to bowling balls to bicycles to plastic toys to rags and sticks," Eckhardt said.

He said a lot of stuff is fished out at the Dos Rios Water Recycling Center after it was flushed at home.

Other items are found in sewer lines around town.

SAWS also has a problem with vandals opening manhole covers and throwing all kinds of things in. Crews have found a bicycle, an Air Jordan tennis shoe, a butter knife, a steak knife, a toy car, rebar, boards and a tire stuck in sewer lines.

They also regularly find gobs and gobs of grease that continues to clog sewer lines and bind debris together.

"In the past, there have been guns and knives and all kinds of strange things," Eckhardt said.

People also flush medication.

SAWS works with the Drug Enforcement Administration to remind people not to. Nancy Sanford, the acting agent in charge of the San Antonio DEA, said unwanted medicine should be properly destroyed.

"With our water supply, we don't want it to be flushed down the toilet and contaminate the water supply," Sanford said.

It also harms the organic process of breaking down solids.

Those solids, by the way, are processed and sold to a distributor who trucks them away and mixes them with wood chips to make mulch.

The motto of this story: Don't flush or drop down a sewer line anything inappropriate.

SAWS has an event Saturday where customers can drop off unwanted medications. It is at Alamo City Church on North Interstate 35 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Visit this website for more information.

For a list of recent stories Brian Mylar has done, click here.