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As it was such a beautiful day today, and I was feeling in an exceptionally fine mood, I decided to spend a little time this evening exploring the storm sewer system close to my house. This again was in aid of the volunteer photographic work I am doing for the Southwestern Illinois RC&D.

So my son and I headed down to the River Des Peres, known locally by some as the River Des Sewage, and notorious for high bacterial content in its water. Happily, it was almost dry, so no hazardous splashing about for us.

Instead, we found a small tributary sewer that ran just by the local U-Haul truck rental depot. This too was dry, and showed the all-too-common detritus of human activity – plastic bottles, paper wrapped around twigs, cans and other items of trash.

The ditch led up to a long tunnel, and there the first signs of water flow in this particular ditch. An active drain gurgling away. I could not tell whether this was rain run-off or a natural flow; the water was dirty but did not smell bad. Like bathwater in fact. It was even swirling down the drain like water down the plug hole.

As it had been a dry day it was hard to tell where the water came from, but there it was, open to the environment, and not very appetizing.

My route took me under a road, and I was able to look up into a storm drain from below.

By now, I was definitely starting to feel a bit like a sewer rat. Even though I was mostly in the open air, it didn't feel like it. I headed back and climbed out to rejoin my son who was waiting on the bank.

This entire journey had taken place about 400 yards from my house where I have lived for 13 years, yet until today I had absolutely no idea this tributary sewer existed. It is amazing how much you do not see!