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Draining - There are things to consider

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The original draining guide everyone reads was written for the Australian drainage systems and didn’t cover many of the issues found in draining in the UK.

If you are thinking of heading into your first drain I would personally recommend starting with a culvert where you normally wouldn’t find methane or H2S gasses.

You should also consider if you have claustrophobia or arachnophobia, some people don’t think of this first but when your thigh deep in water with spiders the size of a child’s fist above you it really isn’t the best time to discover you don’t like being in a wet, dark, enclosed space with massive spiders.

On the note of spiders, most UK spiders are not poisonous but the Faux Widow and a couple of others can give quite a nasty bite, these spiders are normally found in the south/ south west of England.

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/life ... der-bites/

1. Culverts/Underground Watercourses.


A culvert is a drain or pipe that allows water to flow under a road, trainline, town, or similar obstruction.

It is not uncommon for Combined Sewers (see below) in close proximity to a culvert to have an overflow within the culvert, conveniently out of the gaze of the general public. Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) allow an amount of flow from the sewer to discharge into the culverted watercourse during times of excessive rainfall, usually via a screened overflow set-up, to avoid the sewer becoming surcharged.

The dangers in culverts are varied but include; trip hazards from debris washed in, tidal flooding, flash flooding, bad air and build-up of gasses from attached sewer outfalls.

Culverts are safer than sewer or CSO systems.

2. Storm Drains.


Storm drains by their very nature are designed to handle a large amount of water in a hurry.

Most of the time storm drains will have little water but have a large catchment area and can fill quickly.

The most common UK storm drains that get visited are;

Bunker – Warrington

Dreadnaught – Bristol

Flo-Selecta – Derby

Storm drains can have CSO systems attached as well as storm water holding tanks.

The dangers of culverts are still present in storm drains but the risk of flooding is far greater.

Always check the weather before heading into a storm drain and in the case of the system out falling onto a major river also check the local tide times.

3. Sewers and CSO systems.


A sanitary sewer (also called a foul sewer) is a separate underground carriage system specifically for transporting sewage from houses and commercial buildings to treatment or disposal. Sanitary sewers serving industrial areas also carry industrial waste water.

A combined sewer is a type of sewer system that collects sanitary sewage and storm water runoff in a single pipe system. Combined sewers can cause serious water pollution problems due to combined sewer overflows, which are caused by large variations in flow between dry and wet weather. This type of sewer design is no longer used in building new communities, but many older cities continue to operate combined sewers.

Sewer systems are the most dangerous drainage systems to explore with risks such as potentially explosive methane gas, bacterial infection, sudden flooding from rain or a penstock opening further upstream releasing a large flow of what can barely be called water and the big one hydrogen sulphide H2S is a colourless, odorless gas that at higher concentration is more dangerous than cyanide http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_sulfide

Another issue is Weil's disease which is passed along in infected water from animal urine, after 3 days or so you suffer severe headaches, red eyes, muscle pains, fatigue, nausea, fever and in some cases a rash and hallucinations.

If its really bad dose symptoms include hemorrhaging from the mouth, eyes and internally. There is significant and rapid organ damage: liver and kidney failure can occur within 10 days, leading to jaundice (these are the only cases that can properly be called Weil's disease). Hospitalization, followed by antibiotics and often dialysis, will be required if the patient is to survive. Recovery can take months.

Drain exploration can be a very rewarding and here in the UK we don’t have many of the risks found abroad such as animals that will kill you with a bite or intense sudden downpours of rain resulting in flash flooding.

Once you understand the risks and use a little common sense you’ll be wading around underground in no time.

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I'm quite curious about drains, I see the reports but they leave me with many questions - which you have answered here, thanks. :thumb

Culverts seem more appealing than sewers for now though!

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Guest Scattergun

Good little guide Mr Powers :) I'm thinking of putting together a little post on draining equipment for anyone new to the scene.

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