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Location: DownByTheRiver, Central Iowa, United States

Husband of the world's most wonderful wife, father of the world's four most brilliant children, grandfather to the world's eight most beautiful granddaughters and two handsomest grandsons

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Saga Of The Lost Pig

Behind the RRR in the police lab, there is a 4 foot by 4 foot 1/2" steel plate set into the floor. It covers a story that proves that truth is stranger than fiction. The plate covers an old collection pit where the sewage and waste water from the the court house once collected to be pumped into the city sewer system. Some years ago, the lift pump started shutting off without completing the emptying of the collection resevoir as though the connection was blocked to the city system.

But the city sewer didn't seem to be blocked. Worse, when the maps of the sewer system where checked, there was no connection to the court house. A professional sewer cleaning service was called who attempted to open the outlet and found that it wasn't plugged within reach, but mearly full. Meantime, the sewer lines that ran close to the building were checked and all were open and running freely. Worse, no line to the court house could be discovered. Finally the cleaning service used their "pig" to explore the outlet pipe.

A pig is a small robot that "swims" or crawls through pipes to find blockages or leaks. They are used regularly in oil and gas pipelines as well as water supply lines to cities from resevoirs and sewer systems. The pig crawled down the outlet pipe and instead of going to the blockage, started wandering side to side and disappeared! It was worth 1000's of dollars and the cleaning company tried everything to get it back. They soon found that the outlet pipe did NOT go to the city sewer. It led into chambers and down and down and down. Realizing the implications of what had been found, the courthouse was quickly attached to the city sewer, the plate placed over the pit and the whole thing forgotten.

The only possibility to me seems obvious. The county court house sits on top of a limestone cavern. When it was built in the late 1800's the builders discovered an opening as they dug the basement and to save money simply ran the courthouse drains into it! The whole thing was forgotten over a century and the cavern just kept filling with waste water and sewage. Finally the cave was full to the brim and the lift pump couldn't squeeze any more into it. The little robot pig, designed to swim through a 4 or 6" pipe found itself wandering through chambers in the cave. Is it wandering down there still in the darkness?

Before its batteries died did it cry for its mother?

It's something to speculate about late at night between rounds and sweeping the cell block.


Blogger adorable daughter said...

Oh, Dad, the great thing about the imagination is that it could be true!

12:38 PM  

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