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Life without a bathroom, part II

The saga of life without a bathroom at the Ely Echo office had hopefully reached a conclusion following a full day of repairs.
Heavy equipment in the form of a mini-excavator rolled into the alley behind the Echo building last Friday morning. Figuring the line was less than five feet down, this should’ve done the job.
The crews from the city and the EUC had already been hard at work in places no one wants to go. They had found the city main to be open and functioning, it passed the smell test.
At six feet below ground there was still no sign of a sewer line or a water line for that matter. Our equipment was then upgraded to a backhoe that could dig much deeper.
At nine feet below the ground the water line was located and right next to it the non-functioning sewer line. I noted our water line froze this past winter - at nine feet below ground. That’s when the plumber noted the last water line he thawed out this year was on June 3rd.
The cast pipe lasted about two swings with a hammer before breaking open, revealing a sight and odor that’s still hard to forget. The jetting hose was sent toward the city line and stopped right away - plug number one had been located.
Now it was time to head upstream and soon we would be back in business. Not so fast. The jetter came to a dead halt. A camera put in the line revealed gravel and the mystery deepened.
A history lesson of sorts had already been discussed. The building once housed Trembath’s welding company and at one time pulp loaders had been constructed here. This was also the home of the Gossip Bench and Barely Books over the years.
Somewhere along the line the roof was changed. This was the key to our problem. We had found a cut-off drain pipe in the wall that had dirt in it. We believe the previous roof had dirt on it and that the roof drain had been routed into the city sewer.
Over the years the fine gravel from the roof had started to fill up a section of the sewer line. To get from three feet down to the nine foot depth the pipe had a straight drop in it. This is likely where the dirt built up over the years.
There were three of us discussing options at this point. The jetter couldn’t get through and the problem was in the middle of the building. Here were the options:
A. Dig a 9-foot hole in the middle of the building.
B. Add a new bathroom on the back side of the building.
C. Carve out space for a new bathroom in the back room of the building.
Luckily our plumber didn’t give up and gave us option D. Keep trying with the jetter. It took awhile but he was able to get through. But there was still some blockage. Another idea was thrown out: get a fire hose hooked up to a hydrant and flush the system out through the toilet drain.
But we had already used up a number of favors that day. Could we ask for one more?
The answer was yes and at 3 p.m. on a Friday afternoon two guys from the city showed up with fire hose. But it didn’t reach. A third guy brought another section. We were definitely out of favors at this point.
When the water was turned on at the hydrant, the plumber nearly went airborne in the bathroom. The flushing worked like a charm, though, cleaning the pipe out completely.
The camera was sent down from both ends and there was a sigh of relief from everyone. Especially those who had grown weary of going to Blomberg’s for their bathrooms breaks.
We’d like to thank everyone who helped us out from the beginning to the end: Merhar Plumbing, Brandau Plumbing, Low Impact Excavators, the city and EUC crews, Rusco Plumbing, E-Z Excavating and VP’s.
Getting back to having our own bathroom functioning again may not seem like a major milestone but for Milestones Inc., d.b.a. the Ely Echo, it was one of our most important milestones to date.

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