Worker rescued after long slide down sewer pipe


A worker was rescued Monday, March 21, after sliding 3,000 feet down a sewer pipe at the Chambers Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, according to a press release issued to the Mountain News by the county’s Department of Public Works today, which follows below:

Maintenance program manager Scott Roth received a call around 7:53 a.m. from Public Works and Utilities inspector Bob Buckley stating the man, who works for a contractor, came loose from his safety line while working on a rehabilitation project.  The man was swept down a 72-inch sewer main line that has a steep 4 percent slope.  He slid approximately 3,000 feet and went past two access points.

Public Works and Utilities sewer crews went into the third access point, a manhole, and connected a safety rope to the man.  They could hear him in the pipe using access points to determine his location.  A crowd around the manhole cheered as the man was pulled to the surface.

“Our staff really rose the occasion,” said Terry Soden, Public Works and Utilities Wastewater Utility maintenance manager.  “In my 25 years of service, we’ve never had to rescue someone like this.  He could have drowned.”

The man was checked out by West Pierce Fire at the scene and taken to the hospital for further attention.  Soden said the Sewer Utility staff responded quickly with the proper safety equipment and were praised for the successful rescue.  A short video of the man’s rescue is available at

The cause of the incident remains under investigation.

The project involves rehabilitating the main sewer line – which is six feet across – that collects all of the flow to the Chambers Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant.  This project entails relining the concrete sewer line with a reinforced fiberglass liner.  The project included installing two temporary access shafts to facilitate the installation of the new liner. 

The contractor was working in the temporary access shaft located near the property used by the University Place School District as a bus barn, located at Chambers Creek Road and 64th Street West, prior to being swept away into the flow.

For more information, contact the following Pierce County officials:

Terry Soden, Maintenance and Operations manager 253-798-3047,

Mary Powers, public information officer, 253-798-2464,


Mountain News Editor’s Note:

At 25 miles away, the Chambers Creek Sewage Treatment Plant is a long ways from Mountain Country.  Nevertheless, much of our sewage is treated there, as sections of Spanaway and Frederickson are connected to the Chambers Creek facility, or will be soon, by a vast network of pipes.

Current sewer line construction underway in the “B” St area of Spanaway is part of this network, which splays across the southern section of the Urban Growth Area. 

The Urban Growth boundary line roughly follows the northern perimeter of the Graham Land Use Advisory district, and arcs across Mountain Country from 204th St near Mountain Highway to 176th St along Meridian Avenue in the east.

The lands inside the Urban Growth area generally saw rapid development prior to the Great Recession, and connection to the county’s main sewage treatment system allowed that growth to go forward.

Areas south of the Urban Growth boundary line, such as in Graham and Eatonville, avoid the hefty capital costs of sewage systems by utilizing on-site septic systems and drain fields.

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