We’ve run articles in Stormwater about safety issues associated with stormwater infrastructure, such as this one on designing safer retention and detention ponds.
We’ve also featured the occasional item about uses for stormwater pipes completely unintended and unanticipated by the cities that created them, such as hundreds of homeless people moving—furniture and all—into the stormwater tunnels beneath Las Vegas [http://www.stormh2o.com/blogs/sw-editors-blog/living-underground-63959.aspx].
We’ve even covered the theft of manhole covers [http://www.stormh2o.com/blogs/sw-editors-blog/the-case-of-the-missing-manhole-cover-46181.aspx] and other miscellaneous items.
A brief news story out of Colorado Springs last week, however, might top them all—and although it’s something you probably don’t need to plan for as a regular event, it does raise questions about the potential liability a city might face from unexpected uses of its pipes.
It seems police had taken a woman to a local hospital, apparently for psychiatric observation, but she ran away from a police officer as he was trying to escort her into the building. Police chased her for several block as she ran first into a drainage ditch and then made her way into the storm sewer system. According to one account [http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/27623498/detail.html], “officers said they began searching manhole covers at each intersection trying to track the woman.” Eventually they caught up with her and were able to persuade her to climb out, after which they took her back to the hospital.
What’s the oddest—or potentially most dangerous—situation you’ve faced with regard to your local stormwater drainage system, ponds, or other infrastructure? Do you think stormwater programs should pay more attention to the potential hazards and misuses of stormwater structures?