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Austin Guy Falls Into Manhole; Result Is Not Good


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3 hours ago, Scheiss Meister said:

Sanitary sewers are designed to flow between 2 and 5 feet per second, or 1.34 and 3.4 miles per hour.  Any slower than 2 fps and solids settle out and start obstructing the flow.  Faster than 5 fps and the solids scour and erode the pipes.  I don't know the route of the main or mains that he was swept down, but 11 miles in about 3 hours is 3.666 mph, or about 5.377 fps.  That would be an unusually high flow rate, but if the main is carrying more flow than it was designed to carry, I could see it happening.  It is difficult to keep the underground wastewater infrastructure updated to handle a lot of growth. 

User name . . . check.

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9 hours ago, Scheiss Meister said:

Sanitary sewers are designed to flow between 2 and 5 feet per second, or 1.34 and 3.4 miles per hour.  Any slower than 2 fps and solids settle out and start obstructing the flow.  Faster than 5 fps and the solids scour and erode the pipes.  I don't know the route of the main or mains that he was swept down, but 11 miles in about 3 hours is 3.666 mph, or about 5.377 fps.  That would be an unusually high flow rate, but if the main is carrying more flow than it was designed to carry, I could see it happening.  It is difficult to keep the underground wastewater infrastructure updated to handle a lot of growth. 

This is true except for large interceptors.  With Hobas or fiberglass pipe you don't worry about higher velocities because scour is really only a big concern north of 10 ft/sec.  We design  storm to carry 20 ft/sec so it's possible.

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31 minutes ago, Hefeweizen said:

This is true except for large interceptors.  With Hobas or fiberglass pipe you don't worry about higher velocities because scour is really only a big concern north of 10 ft/sec.  We design  storm to carry 20 ft/sec so it's possible.

Most of my experience is at treatment plants, so I am not fully up on the collection system.  I didn't know that  such high flow rates were acceptable in pipes made of other materials.  Thanks.

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9 hours ago, Scheiss Meister said:

ore likely, after he fell he was swept into an area where there was too much carbon dioxide, too much hydrogen sulfide, or too little oxygen and he suffocated.  Manholes provide some ventilation, but not enough to make the atmosphere safe for human habitation.  As was said above, shitty way to go.

'Tis true.  @Scheiss Meister knows his SHIT!

Unless Butch was right and the fall killed Sundance, he suffocated.  Most folks would be surprised at how many municipal employee or contract labor deaths are attributed to sewer gas....... on a percentage basis.

Sometimes you get one guy slipping or falling in a hole and a second goes in instinctively to try and help, and both are overcome.

Those gases are dangerous.  There are numerous cases people "falling into septic tanks" and often those are due to them passing out after being overcome by methane or hydrogen sulfide. Happens at both the residential and municipal level.

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In Dallas, the City proper, many of the alleys are open storm drain channels that go subterranean at points.  So, as kids, we did some exploration of storm sewers because it was easy to get into the subterranean parts.

In University Park, it's mostly subterranean, but it feeds into storm drain "lakes" or reservoirs in the parks, making it again pretty easy (via large-diameter drain pipes) to get into the subterranean parts at certain points.  In one of the parks that has a lake, they're building a huge subterranean reservoir because we get so much more drainage now than we used to, I guess at least partially because of overcoverage of surface by concrete and structures.

In any event, as a kid, I was an experienced storm sewer spelunker, as were most of my peers. You could get in the system in one of the parks and come out a curb drain (ala Pennywise) near your house, if you had the balls.  We were smart enough not to attempt any of this after rains or when much water was flowing.

It seemed like there are far fewer sanitary sewer manholes than storm sewer.  The ones around here are usually "locked" and require a tool to open, while the storm sewer covers are just heavy af.  We obviously had no desire to get into sanitary sewers, but you kind of paid attention to such things.

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Storm manholes are usually spaced at 250 feet while wastewater is 500, depending on whose jurisdiction you are in.  Wastewater is much more dangerous because of hydrogen  sulfide and generally more corrosive environment.  
 

The sad reality is that most accidents like this are preventable but people relax when they’ve been doing it safely for a long time.  
 

We had a manhole in Little Rock that had a lethal level of sulfide for 30 minutes after venting it mechanically, this was more that 20 years ago.  I’ve heard of worse ones in Sydney Australia .  Sewer workers generally have shitty jobs and little reward for it, but I respect the hell out of operators because they make the stuff we design actually work.

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34 minutes ago, TwiceHorn said:

In Dallas, the City proper, many of the alleys are open storm drain channels that go subterranean at points.  So, as kids, we did some exploration of storm sewers because it was easy to get into the subterranean parts.

In University Park, it's mostly subterranean, but it feeds into storm drain "lakes" or reservoirs in the parks, making it again pretty easy (via large-diameter drain pipes) to get into the subterranean parts at certain points.  In one of the parks that has a lake, they're building a huge subterranean reservoir because we get so much more drainage now than we used to, I guess at least partially because of overcoverage of surface by concrete and structures.

In any event, as a kid, I was an experienced storm sewer spelunker, as were most of my peers. You could get in the system in one of the parks and come out a curb drain (ala Pennywise) near your house, if you had the balls.  We were smart enough not to attempt any of this after rains or when much water was flowing.

It seemed like there are far fewer sanitary sewer manholes than storm sewer.  The ones around here are usually "locked" and require a tool to open, while the storm sewer covers are just heavy af.  We obviously had no desire to get into sanitary sewers, but you kind of paid attention to such things.

The thought of a kid getting in our sanitary system and winding up a corpse at on of our plants gives me the heebie-jeebies.  I have found dead rats and squirrels on bar screens that at first glance looked like human embryoes.  The tumbling in the pipes strips all of the hair off and completely changes their appearance.  Nightmare fuel.

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The comment above about being able to smell the cover by Shoal Creek has me unsure. Are there manholes that you can pop the cover off and look down into a flowing river of shit? Or do you remove the cover, climb down, then open the PVC (or whatever material) pipe, and only then do you see a flowing river of shit?

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20 minutes ago, Hefeweizen said:

Storm manholes are usually spaced at 250 feet while wastewater is 500, depending on whose jurisdiction you are in.  Wastewater is much more dangerous because of hydrogen  sulfide and generally more corrosive environment.  
 

The sad reality is that most accidents like this are preventable but people relax when they’ve been doing it safely for a long time.  
 

We had a manhole in Little Rock that had a lethal level of sulfide for 30 minutes after venting it mechanically, this was more that 20 years ago.  I’ve heard of worse ones in Sydney Australia .  Sewer workers generally have shitty jobs and little reward for it, but I respect the hell out of operators because they make the stuff we design actually work.

In UP, it seems like there's one sanitary sewer manhole in the alley per block, I guess depending on how long the block is.

There's a storm sewer manhole at every curb drain, typically, and along sidewalks in between.  We used to use them as sort of waypoints between curb drains.  You had to peer out a curb drain to make sure you didn't get turned around or make a wrong turn somewhere. If you were doing the "come out by your house" quest.

Looking back on it, we were kind of insane.  Fucking kids.

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3 minutes ago, SquishMitten said:

The comment above about being able to smell the cover by Shoal Creek has me unsure. Are there manholes that you can pop the cover off and look down into a flowing river of shit? Or do you remove the cover, climb down, then open the PVC (or whatever material) pipe, and only then do you see a flowing river of shit?

I suppose it varies, but I have seen a sanitary sewer manhole cover removed, and 6-10 feet or so down, you are peering into a stream of water with turds and all the other effluvia.

Also, at one time, there was some kind of obstruction and turdwater was flowing out the holes in the cover.

Edited by TwiceHorn
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21 minutes ago, TwiceHorn said:

In UP, it seems like there's one sanitary sewer manhole in the alley per block, I guess depending on how long the block is.

There's a storm sewer manhole at every curb drain, typically, and along sidewalks in between.  We used to use them as sort of waypoints between curb drains.  You had to peer out a curb drain to make sure you didn't get turned around or make a wrong turn somewhere. If you were doing the "come out by your house" quest.

Looking back on it, we were kind of insane.  Fucking kids.

When I was a kid I was constantly having baseballs roll into the curb drain by the house, so I’d get a large screwdriver and pull the manhole cover off and go get them. That was plenty of excitement for me. 

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13 minutes ago, TwiceHorn said:

I suppose it varies, but I have seen a sanitary sewer manhole cover removed, and 6-10 feet or so down, you are peering into a stream of water with turds and all the other effluvia.

Also, at one time, there was some kind of obstruction and turdwater was flowing out the holes in the cover.

Typical depth is 8 ft.  Never less than 5 feet deep for a main, and even that is super shallow.  The crosstown tunnel in Austin is over 100 feet deep in spots as it goes from 360 to the Walnut Creek planet.

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25 minutes ago, Hefeweizen said:

Typical depth is 8 ft.  Never less than 5 feet deep for a main, and even that is super shallow.  The crosstown tunnel in Austin is over 100 feet deep in spots as it goes from 360 to the Walnut Creek planet.

This was the alley behind our house when I was growing up.  Also, I want to say that this was a pretty small diameter hole, maybe 24" tops.  Not really a manhole, but an access point.

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(CSB) On a lighter note this reminded me of a "one in million shot" story.  About 25 years ago I was working at an engineering firm called Radian near the corner of Steck and Mopac - our campus straddled the railroad tracks behind the old Stripling Blake complex.  We had a blind switchboard operator named Julius.  Every day he'd take a cab to work, and get dropped off by the back door where the freight elevator was.  Well we were having some new computer cable run under the tracks, so they had the utility manhole open, with like 3 cones set around it.  Which is OK for people who can see.  As I'm watching out my 4th floor window, old Julius gets out of the cab in the parking lot and heads toward the door with his cane.  I'm watching him head toward the manhole and thinking "no way".  Sure enough, I'm yelling at the window (he can't hear me obviously) and there he goes in between 2 of the cones .  Poof! Fortunately only one leg went down the hole and he wasn't injured badly, just scraped up and maybe a sprained ankle.  After that, they started putting up the orange netting around the manholes. (CSB)

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In UP, it seems like there's one sanitary sewer manhole in the alley per block, I guess depending on how long the block is.
There's a storm sewer manhole at every curb drain, typically, and along sidewalks in between.  We used to use them as sort of waypoints between curb drains.  You had to peer out a curb drain to make sure you didn't get turned around or make a wrong turn somewhere. If you were doing the "come out by your house" quest.
Looking back on it, we were kind of insane.  Fucking kids.

Hell yeah. Did that too. We were right on the edge of our subdivision, but there were 5-10 acres that had already been subdivided but weren’t built. We had the entire area to dick around in. And since it was essentially abandoned, we just half-ass slid the covers back over the drains. Looking back, I bet we were terrible about that. Probably left them wide open more often than not.

My old man was a civil engineer so he adequately informed me of the danger of being down there if there was any chance of rain.
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2 hours ago, Pato del Muerto said:

When I was a kid I was constantly having baseballs roll into the curb drain by the house, so I’d get a large screwdriver and pull the manhole cover off and go get them. That was plenty of excitement for me. 

I lived this experience too, until one day someone was down hole and encountered a big snake.  I don't know how he got out so fast but from the surface it looked like he shot out of there like he was levitating.  From then on it was crab nets for my crew.  

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10 minutes ago, Parliament said:
4 hours ago, Wally Pryor said:
I love this site..... Get the full gamut and expertise ranging from shit-filled sewer systems to shit-filled football programs. 

And an active scat thread on NSAA. (South Austin's mom posts there.)

Can she coach?  I hear she's at least cheap, if nothing else.

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4 hours ago, TwiceHorn said:

In Dallas, the City proper, many of the alleys are open storm drain channels that go subterranean at points.  So, as kids, we did some exploration of storm sewers because it was easy to get into the subterranean parts.

I did that too. The scariest one being one near Ridgewood park where we accidentally came across a hobo who chased as a ways while screaming and we had to find another way out. 

It's good clean fun that doesn't seem common anymore. A few years ago I led a group of neighborhood kids a couple hundred yards into the system that runs under Mueller to see some of the interesting graffiti and how far it goes. I thought it was a wholesome activity but when I came out of my house in the early evening a few hours later a group of outraged moms were all standing on the corner and glared at me when I drove by. 

Edited by Bozo_Casanova
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9 minutes ago, Bozo_Casanova said:

I did that too. The scariest one being one near Ridgewood park where we accidentally came across a hobo who chased as a ways while screaming and we had to find another way out. 

It's good clean fun that doesn't seem common anymore. A few years ago I led a group of neighborhood kids a couple hundred yards into the system that runs under Mueller to see some of the interesting graffiti and how far it goes. I thought it was a wholesome activity but when I came out of my house in the early evening a few hours later a group of outraged moms were all standing on the corner and glared at me when I drove by. 

Your user name sounds kinda like a scary storm drain clown.

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7 hours ago, SquishMitten said:

The comment above about being able to smell the cover by Shoal Creek has me unsure. Are there manholes that you can pop the cover off and look down into a flowing river of shit? Or do you remove the cover, climb down, then open the PVC (or whatever material) pipe, and only then do you see a flowing river of shit?

We demand answers

@Scheiss Meister

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3 hours ago, Pasken said:

I toured that plant probably 25 years ago.  It was state of the art, at the time.  Being in the neighborhood, everything that could be covered was, with the air under the covers being changed something like 6 or 7 times per hour, if I remember correctly.  They had activated carbon air scrubbers treating the exhausts.  The place looked like a country club from the front, and didn't have odor issues then.  It sounds like scrimping on maintenance and supplies caught up with them.  Plants growing on equipment is a big indication of poor maintenance.

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34 minutes ago, Assman said:

We demand answers

@Scheiss Meister

When you pull the manhole cover off, you are usually looking straight down into the flow.

People pull the the covers off and put shit down manholes all the time.  Construction contractors seem especially prone to this.  I had to replace two pumps in a short time at a lift station because the assholes building apartments nearby kept tossing 2x4, 2x6, and 4x4 scraps, along with bricks and siding scraps, into manholes draining to that station.  Pop the cover, throw it in, and walk away.  It dropped straight into the main and went straight to the lift station.  We'd talk to the guys on site and the owners, but it didn't stop until they finished the apartments.

I had a class in East Texas once, and one of the collection system guys in the class told us about an incident they had.  A manhole started overflowing, so the took the rodding machine used to blow out grease and obstructions to the first manhole downstream and started rodding back up to the plug.  They kept feeding hose until they hit the clog.  They fed enough hose that they figured the clog had to be right at the overflowing manhole.  They revved the machine up, and they obviously got the clog moved, because the manhole stopped overflowing and started draining, and they could see the flow going through the manhole from which they were rodding. 

They shut down the rodding machine and started recovering the hose when the flow stopped and the other manhole started overflowing again.  They tried two or three more times, with the same results.  They set up a pump at the overflowing manhole and pumped the flow to the downstream manhole until it was empty.  Once that manhole was empty, they saw the problem: someone had put a bowling ball in the manhole.  It rolled to the bottom, of course, where it fit the main almost perfectly.  It would seal against the opening in the pipe, keeping the wastewater from flowing.  When they hit it with the rodding machine, it would displace enough to allow the wastewater to pass, but only while the rodder was holding the bowling ball back.  Someone had to go down and get that bowling ball to clear it for good.  I think he said that they kept it as a souvenir.  After disinfecting it, of course.

Edited by Scheiss Meister
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8 minutes ago, Scheiss Meister said:

Once that manhole was empty, they saw the problem: someone had put a bowling ball in the manhole.  It rolled to the bottom, of course, where it fit the main almost perfectly.  It would seal against the opening in the pipe, keeping the wastewater from flowing.  When they hit it with the rodding machine, it would displace enough to allow the wastewater to pass, but only while the rodder was holding the bowling ball back.  Someone had to go down and get that bowling ball to clear it for good.  I think he said that they kept it as a souvenir.  After disinfecting it, of course.

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18 hours ago, Bozo_Casanova said:

I did that too. The scariest one being one near Ridgewood park where we accidentally came across a hobo who chased as a ways while screaming and we had to find another way out. 

It's good clean fun that doesn't seem common anymore. A few years ago I led a group of neighborhood kids a couple hundred yards into the system that runs under Mueller to see some of the interesting graffiti and how far it goes. I thought it was a wholesome activity but when I came out of my house in the early evening a few hours later a group of outraged moms were all standing on the corner and glared at me when I drove by. 

I don't think I have ever seen alleys like that anywhere else.  Specifically, this was in Preston Hollow north of NW Highway.

The alleys were shaped like this \_____/ in cross section between intersections, and sometimes rather than taper up to "the surface," they just went under and there were pipes/tubes branching off under streets, etc..  There was potential there for coolness for bike riding and skateboarding, but they were always damp or wet and mossy in the bottom because of their drain function.  They also weren't well adapted for trash pickup and to this day, I believe the residents have to tote their trashcans out to the curb on trash day.  And for a lot of those lots in Preston Hollow, that's a pretty good haul.  I assume that a lot of alleys in parts of Dallas developed in the 50s-60s are like that.  But it may be peculiar to the areas that drain into Bachman and White Rock Creeks.  Parts of that area are highly flood prone and were before the overcoverage problem became evident.

As an only child with overbearing parents, they didn't need to know about 75% of the shit I got up to.  This included.  Actually, though, one of the points of access in UP was a couple of 8' diameter culverts in Curtis Park.  I know my Mom watched us go up inside them a ways when I was pretty little.  She never had any idea how far we went though.

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2 hours ago, Drunk Stoner said:

So, Andy Dufresne's escape was BS?

I’ve been in a 24” diameter pipe before for confined space rescue training. It was uncomfortable. I chickened out on the 18” diameter pipe. Everyone else went and got thru but it was too much for me.  You can’t move your arms or legs, and you shimmy thru a couple of inches at a time by bending your ankles and pushing with your toes. Some of the smaller folks might have been able to use their elbows a bit. 

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30 minutes ago, Pato del Muerto said:

I’ve been in a 24” diameter pipe before for confined space rescue training. It was uncomfortable. I chickened out on the 18” diameter pipe. Everyone else went and got thru but it was too much for me.  You can’t move your arms or legs, and you shimmy thru a couple of inches at a time by bending your ankles and pushing with your toes. Some of the smaller folks might have been able to use their elbows a bit. 

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33 minutes ago, Pato del Muerto said:

I’ve been in a 24” diameter pipe before for confined space rescue training. It was uncomfortable. I chickened out on the 18” diameter pipe. Everyone else went and got thru but it was too much for me.  You can’t move your arms or legs, and you shimmy thru a couple of inches at a time by bending your ankles and pushing with your toes. Some of the smaller folks might have been able to use their elbows a bit. 

Yeah fuck that noise.  I’m not small and doing an inspection on a 66” pipe one time gave me serious claustrophobia.  I’ve seen little guys go down on their back on a skateboard into a 30 inch line  to glass Joints or inspect them and nope for me.

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1 hour ago, Pato del Muerto said:

I’ve been in a 24” diameter pipe before for confined space rescue training. It was uncomfortable. I chickened out on the 18” diameter pipe. Everyone else went and got thru but it was too much for me.  You can’t move your arms or legs, and you shimmy thru a couple of inches at a time by bending your ankles and pushing with your toes. Some of the smaller folks might have been able to use their elbows a bit. 

so we'll put you down as a 'No' for Airmen's, then.  

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On 10/14/2020 at 10:57 PM, Scheiss Meister said:

Ah, I see what you are getting at.  Manholes are large pipes that run vertically from the sewer main up to ground level.  The manholes are usually concrete or fiber reinforced plastic, and usually about 3 or 4 feet in diameter.  The cover is smaller in diameter and set on a lid that sits on top of the manhole.  The bottom of the manhole is a floor of concrete or other durable material that the main is set into or has a molded channel in it that the main ties into.  There are only open ditches when the mains are being constructed, repaired, or replaced. 

I have seen manholes that were about 3 feet deep, and others that were 30 or more feet deep.  It depends on the lay of the terrain and the depth needed to make the wastewater flow properly.  If the guy today fell in a really deep one, the fall may have killed him.  More likely, after he fell he was swept into an area where there was too much carbon dioxide, too much hydrogen sulfide, or too little oxygen and he suffocated.  Manholes provide some ventilation, but not enough to make the atmosphere safe for human habitation.  As was said above, shitty way to go.

If you are really curious and want a look at a manhole, contact someone at a nearby municipality or utility district and ask for a tour.  Water and wastewater folks love to show off and talk about their work.

I'll just take your word for it.

 

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On 10/16/2020 at 11:59 AM, Pato del Muerto said:

I’ve been in a 24” diameter pipe before for confined space rescue training. It was uncomfortable. I chickened out on the 18” diameter pipe. Everyone else went and got thru but it was too much for me.  You can’t move your arms or legs, and you shimmy thru a couple of inches at a time by bending your ankles and pushing with your toes. Some of the smaller folks might have been able to use their elbows a bit. 

Oh no, absolutely not.

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