The discovery of a diamond ring in some wastewater solids at the Rogers Wastewater Treatment Plant in March was like finding a needle in a haystack, Met Council officials agree.
John Tierney, manager of Mechanical Maintenance at the Rogers Plant, and two machinists, Bruce Benson and Todd Bennett, were investigating a piece of equipment that’s part of the intake of wastewater at the plant. While removing grit and solids near the equipment, they were surprised to find the sparkling object.
Tierney likened the odds of finding the ring to the odds of his winning the lottery. “You’re not going to look for that and find it,” he said. “The odds are astronomical.”
But how long the ring has been separated from its owner is a mystery. "This ring could have been lost as long as 62 years ago or as recently as a couple of weeks,” Tierney said. One thing that is known is that the ring would’ve entered the wastewater stream somewhere near Rogers, in northwest Hennepin County.
The lost ring captivated the news media, who were instrumental in getting the word out about the ring. Met Council social media also played a role. One catch is that to find the right owner, the Met Council can’t show any photos of the ring. People need to describe it in detail before a match is made.
Nearly 300 people have called or emailed to see if the ring was theirs. “Some of the stories are heartbreaking,” said Kai Peterson, Met Council information specialist. “An elderly woman hoping for a miracle for this memory of a deceased husband. One individual even called in lamenting that they had lost their ring the night of their wedding.”
The fate of lost objects in the wastewater system
When an item goes down the drain, it might:
- Get caught in the drain trap or discharge hose
- Become stuck in the sewers directly beneath the house or in city or regional interceptors (sewer pipes)
- Be caught on a screen at a wastewater treatment plant and raked with the rest of the debris by automated equipment into a landfill-bound dumpster
Despite the odds, the ring was found. We're hoping to beat the odds again and find its owner. If you think the ring belongs to you, fill out a form and provide a detailed description of it. If your ring is a potential match, we will request a photo of your ring.
Reminder: Nothing but pee, poop, and toilet paper in the toilet
While the ring could have been lost down a sink or bathtub drain, this event serves as a good reminder that only three things should be flushed down a toilet: pee, poop, and toilet paper. The list of things that must be screened out of wastewater when it enters one of our nine treatment plants is long — wipes, condoms, paper towels, tampons, and dental floss top the list. These all should be thrown in the trash. Why?
Because when combined with oil and grease — which also don’t belong in the wastewater system — these objects can cause what are called “fatbergs” that clog equipment, cause sewage backup into homes, and lead to expensive repairs. And nobody wants that.
What Not to Flush