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It’s a Dirty Job: The World’s Sewer Divers

Posted on September 7, 2014

Sewage diving is a profession often unknown, or overlooked, but it is an occupation needed worldwide. From Mexico, America, England and India, Sewer Divers have been plunging into the depths of our drainage systems, but why? Well, we’re going to reveal what they do, why they do it and exactly what is involved in this dirty job.

What do sewer divers do?

Sewage divers dive into the dark sewers that run below the streets we walk upon, to assess the drainage systems.

They wear diving helmets weighing about 11 kilograms and  “hermetically sealed” diving suits to protect them from slimy waters – and of course, the stench!

Unfortunately, an oxygen tank would be too heavy, so they breathe through a tube, connected to the surface.

Why they do it?

As the growing population increases, the amount of waste created increases. However, this is not always disposed of properly. Therefore, until we learn to recycle and dispose of waste responsibly, their job is highly necessary and there will continue to be a need for Sewer Divers.

Primarily, their job is to unblock drainage systems, looking for rubbish or foreign objects that are restricting the flow of the wastewater. They also carry out maintenance and repair work to pumps, motors, etc. ensuring the current drainage systems are running smoothly.

What’s involved?

This job requires skill and expertise. Due to the density of the waste, the divers have to learn how to work blind. There is no lighting to illuminate the black waters, so they have to be mechanical and figure out exactly what is wrong and what needs to be done to resolve the problem. Therefore, many of the divers are ex-tradesmen, as drilling holes and using hammers in near-blind conditions requires careful planning before even entering the ground below.

Delhi’s Sewer Divers

So now you know a bit more about the world of Sewer Divers, let’s take a closer look at India’s approach to this job, as they do things a little differently…

Despite India’s rapidly growing economy, it remains to have outrageously widespread poverty, malnutrition and disease, which is made worse by the shocking state of their drainage systems.

With no protective clothing, just a bottle of booze to numb the senses, Devi, 43, is a typical ‘manual scavenger’ sent into the dirty pits of Delhi to unclog the cities drains with his hands, for a mere £3.50 a day!

Despite government bans in 1993, thousands of men continue to do this manual job in order to clean the drains of India. Harnam Singh, the Chairman of the Delhi Safai Karamchari Commission, reveals how almost 70 per cent of the men die on the job, and over a 6 month period, 61 Sewer Divers died!

There’s no doubt that it certainly isn’t a pretty job and definitely isn’t for the faint hearted. With sightings of human corpses and animal parts to name just a few unsightly finds whilst on the job! However, there is no also no doubt that as current affairs stand at the moment, until another method is created, we would certainly be in a mess without our Sewer Divers!

Wildon (UK) Ltd

For effective sewage waste management here in the UK, please get in touch with Wildon (UK) Ltd. Our wastewater engineers can design, install, maintain and repair your systems, making sure you have efficient methods in place to dispose of your waste responsibly. So whether your needs are domestic, commercial, agricultural or industrial, please contact us today.

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