Some jobs are really, really dirty
April 2, 2010

If it weren't for reality television, there's probably little chance that many people would know even the first thing about anything that happens to water once it goes down the drain. So perhaps we in the water and wastewater industries should be excited that the upcoming episode of "Undercover Boss" features the CEO of Roto-Rooter draining sewer lines. But it's hard to make sure that stories like these (or a similar recent episode of the same show, which showed the CEO of Waste Management pumping out portable toilets) don't take the pitfall of patronizing their subjects, rather than acknowledging that lots of difficult (and sometimes dangerous) work is required of people who have some pretty sophisticated technical skills, just to keep flowing the long list of conveniences we associate with modern society. Mike Rowe does one of the finest jobs of showing respect to his subjects , as he did when he went to a San Francisco wastewater treatment plant. Anyone who's ever wondered why we think self-priming pumps are incomparably better than submersible pumps should just watch how repulsive it really is to deal with submersible pumps (serving as the main lift pumps at a wastewater plant). All else being equal, a self-priming pump will be cleaner, safer, and easier to work with than any comparable submersible pump.

April 2010
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last revised April 2010