The cleanup effort following May’s cataclysmic flood isn’t confined to Pennington Bend, Bordeaux, Bellevue and other afflicted neighborhoods.
It’s also happening below the surface.
Next to Nashville’s honky-tonks and saloons on Lower Broadway sits a curious piece of bright-red machinery, equipped with knobs, cranks and gadgets, and winding tubes flowing into nearby manholes. Encircled by green fencing, the beast has generated a fair share of looks from the downtown community.
Meet “The Sewer Hog.”
The hog, a product of Pearland, Texas-based Brenford Environmental Systems, is known as the “world’s largest jetter” for cleaning large-diameter pipes. In this case, the hog’s job is to filter out all the debris that entered the deep tunnels of Metro’s sewer system after the record rainfall that began May 1.
“We’re there to get your sewers back and operational as fast and as quickly as we can, so the sewers can work properly as designed,” said Pete Miller of Brenford. “With all the mud that went down there, you might have some backflow problems, manholes popping off, sewage coming up to the streets. It could happen, but with us cleaning that, we’re going to increase capacities and increase flows in the city’s sewer systems.”
“The Sewer Hog” extends a thick hose to a specific location underground, utilizing a high-pressure jetter to push debris to down-hole pumps. The pumps move the material to what’s known as a “Grit Gator,” which works as a filter to separate sand, grit and gravel from water. The water then goes back into the sewer line.
Contracted via Metro Water Services, Brenford currently has three hogs stationed around downtown, with a fourth on the way. Miller said his company could remain in Nashville for one to two years to cover the entire county.
“You’re going to start seeing more of them downtown,” Miller said. “Basically, we’re cleaning the interceptor that runs from downtown all the way to the central wastewater treatment plant.”
So far, according to water department spokeswoman Sonia Harvat, more than 500 tons of debris has been removed from the sewers.