A dirty job in Mexico City: sewer diver

A dirty job in Mexico City: sewer diver

MEXICO CITY - Deep below the streets of Mexico City, Julio Cesar Cu is hard at work swimming in dark sewer waters in a diving helmet and dry suit, surrounded by rats, faeces and condoms.

It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it.

For the past 30 years, the 53-year-old has plunged below the grimy surface to unclog drains with his hands, a crucial task to ensure the system runs smoothly for more than 20 million people producing 12,700 tonnes of waste per day.

Sometimes, he makes grim discoveries, like dead bodies floating down the tunnel.

"You can find anything you could imagine down here, from plastic bags to car parts," Cu told AFP before plunging eight meters (26 feet) below street level at a pumping station.

He became the mega-city's lone sewer diver when his two other colleagues quit for fresher air five years ago, though he now has two apprentices learning the ropes for a risky job that pays $480 per month.

"Someone has to do this work," the burly diver said as he geared up for his first plunge of the day. "The smell is unpleasant, but it's like everything, you get used to it."

It's a job that man can do better and faster than a machine, which would take 15 days to unclog drains.

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