Drain "deep clean" turns up trash in Greenwood

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A surprise for workers in Greenwood as they discovered something unexpected when they tried to clear the city's storm drains.

Besides dirt, gravel and sand, they found items like TVs, BB guns and golf putters inside the pipes.

In Mike Terry's neighborhood in the Whispering Trails subdivision, streets often flooded in a bad rainstorm.

"Six inches deep down there the whole thing," Terry said. "Drains couldn't carry it away fast enough."

That's part of the reason why the city of Greenwood bought a massive machine late last month called the "Vactor", for what it calls a "deep clean."

"It's kind of like your artery system. You know, you get a blockage, you end up having a heart attack. Well here, our heart attack is we start to flood," explained Chris Jones, the MS4 Coordinator for the city of Greenwood's Stormwater Utility Department.

But when that beast of a truck started pumping in Whispering Trails, work crews discovered much more than dirt and gravel. They found a rusted DVD player, complete with carrying case.

"That's amazing," Terry said, looking at a photo of the electronics. "Huh! Just boggles my mind how it got down there."

And that wasn't all.

"We found portable TVs, DVD players, CDs, DVDs, boulders, cinder blocks," Jones said. "Plus, we found numerous amounts of footballs, basketballs, tennis balls, kickballs and a golf putter."

"That's unbelievable. Wonder what else they'll find," Terry said.

There was a total of 250 tons of water-logged debris in the pipes. They even found cement, which appeared to be poured right into the drains.

"I can see some of the small stuff, but a TV's kind of hard to believe," Terry said.

"You know, it's not going to make it through the grates," Jones said.

City leaders fear some of the problem included neighbors using storm sewers as their personal dumping ground. All that debris could contaminate waterways, while also blocking storm drains.

It took days for crews to get through just a few dozen feet of pipe, but they plan to tackle the whole city with a deep clean for storm drains, to make streams and streets safe.

Jones says the Whispering Trails neighborhood had storm drains that hadn't been cleared since homes were constructed about 40 years ago, so there was a lot of build up of trash over time.

Since the deep clean, Jones says heavy rains have not led to street flooding.