Hometown Hero: City Servant Keeps Sewer System in Check

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. --  Odds are you've flushed a toilet, taken a shower, or used water in some way today and haven't thought once about where it goes or how it gets there.

One Springfield man makes sure our sewers stay in working order every day. Carl Shaw with the Springfield Clean Water Service makes our "business" his focus.

"Oh yes, there's lots of jokes that go around," he says. "You know, they think it's a pretty nasty job. Sometimes it is."

But Carl will tell you, keeping Springfield's sewer system in check is no laughing matter.

"It is a very big responsibly. We got a lot on our shoulders to get the water here to make sure our lines are clear."

For nearly 20 years, Carl has worked his way up the department, starting as a temp for the City of Springfield in 1993.

"I guess I needed a job," he laughs.

Now as maintenance supervisor, Carl heads up several crews responsible for maintaining the city's 1,200 miles of sanitary sewer and 28,000 manholes -- even performing some emergency rescues along the way.

"We had a lady call and she lost a diamond ring and actually our TV crew went out and found the diamond ring for her."

It's Carl's dedication to the underground work his supervisors say makes him stand out.

"Carl understands the importance of protecting our environment," says supervisor Kevin Swearengin.

And without him, Carl's boss says we'd notice our waste more than we want.

"He's one of those guys that nobody knows he's out there doing his job, because when he's doing his job, he's doing it really well and nobody knows that there's any problems with the sanitary sewer."

Yet this humble, hardworking city servant says it's just his 9 to 5.

"I'm just doing my job."

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