NewsWorks has a fascinating piece on Adam Levine, the Philadelphia Water Department’s part-time “sewer historian.” It’s not really as bad it sounds: The job mostly consists of traipsing through archives rather than tunnels — for good reason:
[Levine] got his job after taking a sewer tour and writing about it, so he agreed to accompany me on a tour of my own, which led us underneath Algard Street in the Northeast.
The brick sewer was tall enough to stand in comfortably, and about four inches of gray water rushed by our rubber boots. It was humid and sticky, and smelled only mildly of sewage.
Sewer maintenance inspector Kevin Bess took the lead on the tour.
He stopped during our block-long walk underground to point out a softball-sized opening in the wall of the sewer, at about eye level: the opening of what’s called a lateral pipe.
“This is the last pipe that brings all the used water from your home,” Bess said.
I asked what happened if that house flushed the toilet while we were looking at it.
“Move out the way,” Bess replied.