Let Rod Do It: Cleaning out things you flush at Tampa Waste Water Department

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) –  Have you ever wanted to just quit your job and try something else? Do something completely different?

We took a trek over to the City of Tampa’s Waste Water Treatment Facility to do the dirty job of cleaning out the screens that filter out all of the things you flush, that perhaps you shouldn’t.

The department handles about 60 million gallons of wastewater per day.

Rod Carter worked alongside 30-year veteran Geary Anderson at one of the largest pump stations. It filters wastewater before it heads to the Howard Curren Water Treatment Plant at the Port of Tampa.

Every day, he said, they clean and haul away three to four cans of waste that gets trapped in something in those screens.

“Coming off the weekend and everything just piles in on us. But the majority of the days we normally get about three to four cans,” Anderson said.

One of the biggest culprits are flushable wipes.

“They’re not flushable,” said director Eric Weiss.  “Our waste-water system often gets treated like a garbage can. People put stuff in it they shouldn’t like diapers,  food wraps,” he added.

They use very long rakes and plunge them down into the water to grab the muck trapped there. It takes a bit of muscle.

Once cleaned, the filled cans are hauled off to the landfill.

There are 225 pump stations in Tampa, seven are larger sites.

“If that’s not screened out, then the wastewater couldn’t come in to be pumped out and it would overflow in the Hillsborough River,” Weiss said.

That’s why people like Anderson work hard to protect you and the environment. They endure the nastiest, filthiest, yuckiest and smelliest parts of the job, to get it done.

Rod asked if workers ever get accustomed to the smell? “No. You do not get used to the smell,”  Anderson said.

The salary for the position starts at about $41,000 per year.

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