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News & Press: Illinois Section AWWA News

Early Sewer Cleaning

Saturday, February 10, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Laurie Dougherty
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Early Sewer Cleaning


In the 1920’s and 30’s sewer and water was brought into the Chicago suburbs. One town finally outlawed outhouses and cesspools in 1936. Houses at the time only had wash basins and toilets with showers and dishwashers in the distant future with grey water being dumped outside. With minimal flows the upstream terminal legs of sewers had solid deposition problems. To clear the deposition towns would periodically dump a wagon tank of water in the line or [Don’t tell the EPA] have a water service trickling into a counter weighted dump trough to keep the sewer flushed. [About 20 years ago while replacing a sewer in the Northwest suburbs an inspector reported tearing out a device which sounded like a flush box.] When flushing didn’t work and before power flushers and vactors, the sewer would be manually cleaned.


A manual rodding device consisting of 1.5”x1.5”x2’ (Approx. 50 pcs.) wood rods joined with knuckle couplings [At WATERCON several years ago a Foreman told of using this device] with a spike/shovel head is shown on the attached photos. This antique device is looking for a home to preserve it and use it for exhibition/education. Contact Joe at

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