Orlando underground tunnels keeping the city beautiful

Machine helps sift debris out of stormwater

ORLANDO, Fla. – Thirty feet below the surface of an Orlando residential neighborhood, a well-oiled machine helps clean stormwater as it rushes through a series of teeth.

From the outside, drivers might pass this machine room, near Leu Gardens, without noticing it.

Climb underground, and it's a very different story. Turbines that keep the facility ventilated also make it very loud.

"These are hard, plastic teeth that break from time to time," said Orlando Public Works Director Rick Howard. "A stick will just get wedged in there."

Howard said the sticks come from stormwater that rushes through underground tunnels and through the teeth of a machine that collects the debris.

The machine resembles an upright conveyor belt, which dumps leaves and other items into a hopper.

Howard said some of the items are a bit unusual.

"Probably the most unusual was a cowboy boot," he said. "Then about four months alter, there was its match. No cowboy, yet."

When News 6 toured the facility, Howard found someone's credit card.

Down one more level, it resembles a dark scene from "The Phantom of the Opera," which is where the water flows, and when it storms, the noise roars.

The teeth of the machine sift the debris before it heads to Lake Rowena, and Howard said a shot of aluminum sulfate helps the environment.

It's one way, he said, his crew is keeping The City Beautiful beautiful.


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