Blackwell’s Inc. Vacuum Truck Crew Warned “Get Out Quickly”

hydrodynamic separator, vacuum truck

In the nick of time

A lot of what we do in industrial cleaning work could be considered high-risk work. Our associates are trained and have experience with this type of work. But this particular job took us by surprise. We were able to stay safe but we got out “just in the nick of time”!

Non-porous concrete and asphalt used in the construction of roads, driveways, and parking lots prevent precipitation from naturally soaking into the ground. Instead, the precipitation stays on the surface and during heavy downpours runs rapidly into storm drains and sewer systems carrying with the runoff all types of coarse and solid debris.


Municipal stormwater collection systems

Underground hydrodynamic separators in municipal stormwater collection systems create a circular motion of the stormwater to remove and collect coarse and solid materials allowing the stormwater to pass through. Their design creates a swirling vortex of water and debris, which in effect creates an artificial gravity that separates the solid materials (debris) from the water, allowing the materials to settle on the floor of the separator.


Cavernous belowground structures

When the separators reach capacity with sediment and debris, vacuum trucks are used to remove the debris from the system. These cavernous belowground structures, typically made of concrete, are cylindrical in shape. The size of the separator pictured here is approximately 65 ft. in diameter and 40 ft. in height.

Blackwell’s, Inc. was contracted to pump out, power wash, and clean the underground separator using our vacuum truck. While in the separator, cleaning and vacuuming out the sediment and debris collected at the bottom, our associates got the word that it was beginning to rain.


“Get out quickly”

And rain it did! Within minutes the underground separator filled with swirling stormwater. Our crew was told to “get out quickly”! Thankfully, they made it out, but they did only with minutes to spare. But we did lose our 32 ft. ladder in the swirling water.


Now through October are peak months for hurricanes

With now through October being the peak months for hurricanes in the Atlantic, public municipalities may have trouble with their storm drains clogging and overflowing if they are not prepared for heavy rains.

Blackwell’s, Inc.’s vacuum trucks are ready to help.

hydrodynamic separator, vacuum truck
Blackwell’s, Inc. vacuum truck crew member removing sediment and debris from inside the cavernous hydrodynamic separator.
storm water drain cleaning
Looking down into the hydrodynamic separator after vacuum truck cleaning of the debris.

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