As river levels rise, MSD deploys sewer divers

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ST. LOUIS – When the Mississippi River rises to a certain level and the prediction is for it to rise even higher, the Metropolitan Sewer District swings into action.

MSD employs scuba divers to help keep flood waters out of the community.

“Keep the streets open and people from flooding. That’s our main goal,” said Dustin Arnold, a scuba diver who dives in the sewers.

Arnold was preparing to go diving near the corner of Hall Street and Riverview.

“I think there is five feet of water in there now so well have to get all the way to the bottom of that to get the plug in there,” Arnold said.

Arnold said the visibility when diving is zero and that it’s all by feel. He will put a giant plug in place to block the sewer line that leads to the Mississippi. The Mississippi River is above flood stage and expected to continue to rise through at least early next week.

“Our goal is to prevent water from the river getting into our system which can increase the likelihood of back up into people’s homes,” said Bess McCoy, an MSD spokeswoman.

McCoy said they also bolt down manhole covers.

Homeowners can also help to keep their property dry by making sure gutters are free of leaves and debris. Downspouts should be directed away from homes and clear out window wells and stairwell drains.

People can help by keeping trash and leaves from blocking inlets on neighborhood streets. MSD has 160 thousand street inlets and 10 thousand miles of sewers to maintain.

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