December 2008, Vol. 20, No.12

Online Extra

Join Us on a Tunnel Dive

Deep underground, 90 m (300 ft) beneath the city of Milwaukee, a 1.5 million-m3 (400 million-gal) overflow tunnel was filled with wastewater and sediment. Highly trained divers blasted debris with pressure hoses as they made their way through the tunnel.


Dive Photo Gallery

Click on the thumbnails below for larger images

The “clammer” is used to clean out the bottom of the drop shaft prior to the dive.

Coil of “umbilical cord” — hoses providing surface air, video feed, and hot water used to regulate temperature in wet suit — that is attached to a diver while under the water. 

Divers walk to the drop shaft for a daytime site check. 

The pump room is located 90 m (300 ft) underground.

A large drop shaft located in the pump room leads up to ground level. This shaft is used to lower any equipment needed (via crane) into the pump room. This is similar to the drop shaft that the divers use to enter the deep tunnel.

A view of the Jones Island Water Reclamation Facility at night. In the foreground is a primary clarification tank.

Divers coil the lifeline in preparation for the evening’s dive.

Divers drop a glow-stick down the drop shaft before the first diver begins.

Dive Supervisor Ed Stowitts is helped into his dive suit by his teammates.

A diver helps guide the man-basket carrying Dive Supervisor Ed Stowitts down the drop shaft for the initial dive into the deep tunnel pipes.

Dive Supervisor Ed Stowitts is lowered down the drop shaft, beginning the initial dive into the deep tunnel pipes.

A diver monitors Dive Supervisor Ed Stowitt’s initial dive through the video feed Stowitts is wearing. Visibility was 130 mm (5 in.) on the first dive, until the hoses were turned on, and then there was zero visibility.