Where Would We Be Without Plumbers?

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Where Would We Be Without Plumbers?

What plumbers and drain cleaners do for the environment and public health is astounding.

In fact, studies show that fresh running water is the leading reason for a decrease in widespread disease.

“The ability of plumbing and sanitation systems to deliver clean water and remove waste has protected populations from communicable disease throughout history. There is an acknowledgment from many within the public health community that clean, drinkable water has likely protected more lives and extended life expectancy more than any medical advancement.” - Dawn Robinson, Plumbing Manufacturers International

Without professionals like you, there would be no fresh running water. Spartan Tool’s marketing and e-commerce manager, Jennifer Shoemaker, wrote about her experience volunteering abroad that helped her appreciate more than ever the work that Spartan Tool professionals do every day to keep us safe:

As a teenager, I worked in the kitchen of a summer camp. I didn’t cook or care for the campers, I was the dishwasher — responsible for ensuring that all plates, cups, utensils, pots and pans were sanitized and sparkling clean for each of the meals we served to a dining hall full of smiling campers.

On the last night of camp, the tradition was for each camper to describe both the low point and the high point of his or her camp experience. You can probably guess the most common answers — low point: mosquitos; high point: horseback riding.

After a summer of washing dishes, I joked, “What about clean dishes? Why isn’t anyone’s high point clean dishes? Imagine what camp would be like if you didn’t have clean dishes at each meal.”

In hindsight, it was silly to expect a 10-year-old to rank clean dishes above riding in the woods on horseback. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was actually onto something; there was a kernel of truth in my joke.

A clean dish is something most take for granted. We turn on the faucet, scrub the pots and pans, and wash the residue and soap suds down the drain.

But what if having clean dishes was a high point of your life? What if you weren’t able to have clean running water and a free-flowing drain for disposal?

The drain cleaning industry is sort of like the old movie theater projectionists — no one thinks about who is running the movie until it doesn’t work. When the projectionist was behind and the movie got interrupted, people got mad. When your drain is clogged and you can’t wash dishes, you not only get mad, but you know that unsanitary conditions can quickly arise. The option to call someone knowledgeable who correctly uses safe, reliable equipment and gets things flowing smoothly again is definitely a high point to you in this situation.

Have you ever thought about what life would be like without fresh-flowing water and clear pipes to remove the wastewater? Even your customers don’t often think about how you and others in the plumbing and drain cleaning industry contribute to their health and well-being. Developed countries are fortunate to have well-functioning drainage systems that are usually clear of blockages.

I was in Haiti on the one-year anniversary of the devastating 2010 earthquake. While there were many memorable experiences while I was there, one aspect has stayed fixed in my memory the most.

Driving through the capital city, Port-au-Prince, the waterways were filled with trash. Many of these waterways don’t have much, if any, water in them; just trash. Most homes I encountered in Haiti did not have running water or trash service. Sanitation services are nonexistent. All trash — including human waste — was left on the ground where it is dropped until the heavy rains come and everything is washed into the waterways. Eventually these waterways lead to the bay, where the trash washes out into the sea.

My experience wasn’t an anomaly. The cholera epidemic that hit Haiti in the months following the earthquake eventually killed over 8,000 people. Without sewer systems and clean drinking water, the infection, spread by contaminated water and food, was almost unavoidable. Many people in Haiti only had two options: dehydration or risking contamination from the water. Neither option is viable.

I remembered all the warnings about the water that I heard before leaving; the admonitions to only drink bottled water that had been provided to us by our contacts there. It wasn’t until I personally saw the situation that I realized how easily I take for granted the sanitation we have here in the U.S. Being able to turn on the faucet and get potable water, being able to flush the toilet and know the waste was being properly disposed of — these are luxuries, provided to us by many hardworking women and men.

The drain cleaning industry is not just about clearing clogged drains. At its heart, it is really about the health and well being of people and our environment.

Have you ever heard of a flying toilet?

If you’ve been to an urban area in a third world country, you may have heard about these. They are commonly associated with the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. In Kibera, there are an estimated 225,000 people living in an area about the size of New York’s Central Park.

There is no running water in Kibera. The few and far between latrine facilities are pay-to-use, and average one toilet for every fifty families. Many families cannot afford the fee to use the toilet; additionally, it is often dangerous to leave one’s home after dark. Combine these factors, and the best solution seems to be the flying toilet — a bag filled with human waste that is thrown as far from one’s home as possible. If someone happens to be walking by in the dark when the bag is thrown … well, that is considered his or her bad luck. 

For those of us in developed countries, the thought of something such as flying toilets for waste disposal is unfathomable. We depend on the men and women working in the drain cleaning industry to keep our sanitary systems functioning. Cleaning drains is a job that most people would rather pay someone else to do. It is something thought about only when problems arise.

Working in this industry has given me an appreciation for the women and men who do drain cleaning on a daily basis. They are some of the unsung heroes in our lives. The health problems associated with poor sanitation are virtually unknown in developed countries — thanks in large part to the people in this industry who quietly and competently solve sanitation problems for all of us, and keep our water systems safe and environmentally sound.


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