Saturday, August 08, 2009

This is not a mud volcano

Thursday morning, I got home to the sound of the sinks glugging and an unpleasant smell. A quick glimpse at the back drain revealed the problem- sewer clogged up. One rapid response plumber later, we had determined that our line as far as the drop to the main line was clear. As he said to me, “You can hire a mechanical digger, but you’ll save a whole lot of money if you just dig.” So, shovel and pickaxe in hand, down I went.

Three hours later, I had uncovered the downpipe cap, and quickly changed and sponged off (shower would have dire side-effects) to run out to a job interview. I returned to find the following:

Figure 1. Sewerage eruption vent. Note the splash marks on the back fence, indicating minimum plume height.

The plumber used the term “geyser” to describe it, and said that he had to wait for about an hour for it to subside enough for him to get to work. After ponding in the veggie patch, the flow ran under the fence and down the laneway to near the bus stop. And the stench. Oh, the stench.

Figure 2. The laneway to the bus stop was inundated.

This was the point where he called the utility, as only a main line blockage could account for the volume and type of effluent. There were vegetable bits from species we haven’t eaten for yonks, and the shear volume was more than our 100mm pipe could contain. This was a broad-based community based effort, with the curried squirts, greasy logs, and uptight stones of all our neighbors joining into a gray sludge of maximum entropic state.

I’ve been mopping up and sterilizing ever since, despite such complications as the fact that the effluent flow eroded so much dirt away that I had trouble finding fill for the hole. Despite the churning in my tummy and the phantom scent of sludge being imagined by my brain, the worst is hopefully over. I must ask, though:

Do any of you read this blog while eating your lunch?


Kim said...


E said...

No, thankfully I was not eating -- vivid description, to be sure!!
And I'm guessing it still couldn't capture the full repugnance..

Ben said...

Truly awesome. Your uphill neighbours may never know what debt of gratitude they owe to you, the suburb's safety valve.

RBH said...


EcoGeoFemme said...

Oh man that's nasty!