Sewer Sucking 101: City Employees Learn About Handling Sewer Cleaner

Information reprinted with permission of the Courier Times, local newspaper, New Castle, Indiana

Sewer sucking 101: City employees learn about handling the sewage cleaner


Posted: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 5:31 pm


Sucking sewage isn't so bad. Just ask new city employees Daniel Jackson and Chris Lacy.

Jackson and Lacy got specialized training Tuesday. Both relatively new on the job, they had to learn how to run the city's Vactor trucks to help keep city sewer mains clean, Fred Duvall, water pollution control superintendent, said.

“These trucks are dangerous. One mistake, one wrong move, and they could be sent to the hospital,” Duvall said. “We want to make sure they are properly trained.”

Lacy and Jackson took turns lowering the vacuum hose, called a boom tube, into sewer lines. They lowered the boom tube, along with an orange rodder hose — kind of like a Paul Bunyon-sized garden hose — down a hole into underground lines created by the removal of a manhole cover.

The rodder hose squirts water into and around the sewer line ... and not just a trickle. Vactor Inc. service technician Matt Weaton said the rodder can shoot as much as 80 gallons a minute.

“It can shoot up to 2500 psi (pounds per square inch) of water,” he said from the company office in Streator, Ill.

According to U.S. Department of Labor reports, injuries can occur from such high-pressure hoses if they are not used according to instructions, even at 200 psi. Protective equipment helps ensure employee safety. Injuries can occur when a hose transporting such quantities of water at great speed bucks, whipping a wild nozzle at the end of the hose into an operator's body.

“When we turn them loose, we want to be comfortable they won't get hurt and can do the job,” Duvall said.

New Castle owns two Vactor trucks. One, a 2001 model, cost $180,000, and the other, $220,000. The money the trucks save comes in reduced wear and tear on the city's wastewater treatment facility by lowering the amount of sand, grit, and waste that reach the plant, Duvall said.

By 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jackson and Lacy had sucked up about 300 gallons of sewage between Q and O avenues.