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So I guess the first time I thought about the fact that Civil Engineers were the kind of engineers who handled wastewater management was my Environmental Engineering class. Man, that professor fucking sucked. We all hated her. She would wear the same thing two classes in a row, like Tuesday and Thursday. Over the course of the semester, I think we saw four outfits total. And they were the same outfit, only in different colors, but the combinations didn't ever change, she never mixedandmatched. Longsleeved shirts tucked into tightish jeans, often white, and then she wore brown flats with socks. Lime green socks, sometimes. One time she was wiping the board and she dropped the eraser and got chalk on her face and clothes, and had to wipe it off, but you know that shit don't come off just from wipin'. And another time she took a sip of her Sprite and dribbled on herself. That time I actually felt bad, though, because I dribble on myself at least once a week. But it sucked that she had a wet spot on her shirt the whole rest of the class. Like, I know that people can dress however they want? Especially absent-minded professors? But I'm sorry, if you're going to be instructing a class, you should conduct yourself in a fucking professional manner, you should not wear the same goddamn outfit three classes in a row. She did that once, THREE classes in a row. Did she do laundry twice in one week? Probably not. That's fucking nasty.

Oh, also she was one of the professors who didn't know how to use the blackboards correctly, and that used to drive me up the fucking wall. (Man, what is it with me and complaints lately? And I consider myself such a laid-back person . . . ). Like, okay, they're on rollers? So you have three columns of boards next to each other, but they're two board-heights high, and two boards in each column, so six total. You use the first one, then throw it up over your head, then the next one over, slide that one up, then the third one, then you come back to the first row and write on the bottom board, then move over, so you don't have to erase the first board until you've filled SIX boards with equations and whatnot. But if you're a fucking idiot, you do it ALL wrong and don't use all the boards because -- I don't even KNOW why someone would use them incorrectly, I don't understand why engineers can't deal with simple logic like this, and so you only use like three boards, but then you don't even erase the FIRST one, you leave it up there forgotten for the rest of the period (and no, it doesn't have like a topic sentence or anything important on it, it's just forgotten), and then you erase like the SECOND one for some fucking reason, and the shit is only sitting up there for like six minutes, so if one of your students comes in late because they hate you or falls asleep because you're crappy, then they miss notes because you erased them too fast. Man I hated that woman.

ANYWAY, so all of a sudden we were doing calculations for wastewater treatment plants. My first thought was "gasp!" and my second thought was "ew!" and my third thought was "note to self: do not choose Environmental Engineering as your specialty." I ended up picking Construction. But I'm doing Environmental, pretty much. I WANTED to do Geotechnical, but they didn't end up offering it because the one geotechnical professor didn't have time to teach a class, he had too much research to do. Fucking cocksucker. Glad you see what you're really here for. Actually I guess I REALLY wanted to do Structural, because my dream is to Build Bridges, but then I did my internship and it seemed as though if you went Structural, you wouldn't get to actually DESIGN anything until you were like forty.

ANYWAY, so yeah, wastewater. Well, now I do developments (shopping and residential, usually) and such, and we have to design the sewer system. For these two projects in Washington Township, we're tying in to the municipality's sewer system. To get a permit to do so, we have to (among other things) make sure that the pumping stations can handle the extra flow. Sanitary sewer stuff will run downhill as much as possible, but then sometimes they have to run uphill, so they're pumped through force mains, to the next place they can run downhill, or the next pumping station. Sometimes big developments or shopping centers will have to have a small pumping station of their own, to get it to municipal lines. Those are their own responsibility. So we have to design some too. But that's not what I'm talking about today.

Pumping stations don't run constantly. The wastewater goes into a big thing underground called a wet well, because it's wet in there. It fills up to a certain point, and then the pump kicks on, and pumps it through the force main, until the water level is lowered to a different certain point, and then the pump kicks off again. My job was to go to the pumping station, and then do two major things: 1) measure the depth of the water when the pump kicks on, and when it shuts off, and 2) record the cycle time, the amount of time the pump is running. The amount of time the pump is off isn't really useful, because inflow varies; obviously it's highest (and therefore the time is shortest) from say 6am to 8am, when everybody's getting ready for work, and then agan 6pm to whenever, when everybody's home and making dinner and taking showers and whatnot.

Then, using the info I recorded, and the diameter of the wetwell, I can determine the volume of water that's pumped in a certain amount of time. And then I divide by that time, and bam, I've got a rate of flow! Gallons per minute, or what have you!*

Congratulations, you probably know a lot more about your poop, and where it goes when you're done with it, than you did five minutes ago!

All in all, it was a LOT better than I had dreaded. It didn't smell that bad at all, because the wet wells are pretty deep, and it wasn't too hot or humid out or anything. And sure, it's wastewater, but it's a hell of a lot more WATER than anything else, you know? And Al, man, Al. I have to write a whole post about the WTMUA guy that was with me to open the lids and cabinets and whatnot, this dude kicked serious ass. But even though it wasn't that bad, I don't want to be too interested or good at it. I should screw something up on purpose. Because I'm all for going out into the field, but I have more . . . dirt, in mind, you know? When I say that I like to get dirty, I mean, legitimately, you know, DIRT. Not poop.

*Actually, it's not REALLY that simple, because you have inflow that whole time, but whatever, close enough.

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Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
techsmurf
Aug. 8th, 2002 02:12 pm (UTC)
Hey, thanks for the info Washu, now I'll think of you every time I flush...
tamisevens
Aug. 8th, 2002 03:05 pm (UTC)
I lived with an engineering major for three months, and it was in that time that I developed my fasination with shit.

what a great job perk you have, Kerry.
slickninja
Aug. 8th, 2002 03:13 pm (UTC)
Cool, you got to measure the rate of flow of POOP!!

My master's thesis is 'geotechnical', aren't you jealous? Why am I a mechanical engineer doing a civil engineering project? I don't know, ask my advisor, I'm just in it for the benjamins.
king_kai
Aug. 9th, 2002 08:09 am (UTC)
sewer stuff will run downhill as much as possible

man, it's the same way at my job.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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