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Sewer Sociology – The Days of Our (Sewer) Lives

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For centuries mankind has recorded life's events through hieroglyphics, stories, and books. In similar fashion, those of us in the sewer business recognize the daily rhythm of people's lives through the diurnal patterns of water and sewer use. Differences can be seen between weekdays, weekends, and holidays, and other distractions and disruptions of everyday life can often be seen as a departure from the normal diurnal pattern.

An overview of sewer use patterns is provided for normal weekday and weekend periods. Variations are then discussed based on land use differences – including residential and commercial areas. Other events that depart from normal diurnal patterns are also presented – including holidays, religious observances, sporting events, the World Trade Center Attack of 2001, the Northeast Power Blackout of 2003, and others.

This paper is not a typical technical paper, but rather a collection of interesting observations of human behavior documented through sewer flow monitoring data. The authors have performed engineering analysis on data from thousands of flow monitoring locations across the United States, and this paper will show those of general interest, including both serious and light-hearted material.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2006

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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