Unclogging the Drains

San Francisco Department of Public Works colleague Mike Jason was onsite this morning as part of the final effort to clear long-plugged drains at the bottom of the Hidden Garden Steps, on 16th Avenue between Kirkham and Lawton streets in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset District.

Mike Jason working at the foot of the Steps

Mike Jason working at the foot of the Steps

What should have been an easy project—removing dirt and leaves that accumulated over decades within the two drains at the bottom of the Steps—became unexpectedly complicated earlier this year when DPW and Public Utilities Commission employees discovered an additional impediment: concrete wedged into pipes so that water could not flow from the drains into the nearby sewer system. Initial responses from PUC hinted that an entire wall might have to be removed and entirely new connecting pipes installed to connect the onsite drains to the mid-street sewer system.

Coordinating their efforts, however, led to a different, less-complex solution. PUC and DPW staff recently managed to remove the hard-to-access concrete blockage. Mike and other DPW colleagues are now completing the final part of the effort—removing the remaining tree roots and other debris that have accumulated in the pipes. Completion of that effort should prevent further overflows of water during the rainy season and paves the way for adding colorful hand-made tiles to the wall at the foot of the Steps to spell out the name “Hidden Garden Steps.”

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