Watershots Online Photo Contest

Held on May 1-30, the competition gave readers an opportunity to submit their best manhole pictures to be voted on, encouraging them to show off their photo-taking skills and to appreciate the artistry of their community’s water and wastewater infrastructure.

First Place 1307ww

Manhole covers: Most people never notice them. They walk or drive over them without a thought. But what they don't realize is that cities across the country - across the world! - take great pride in the designs embossed on their community's manhole covers. We asked our readers to send us pictures of their favorites. Which ones got the most votes?

First Place 1307ww

First Place Photo:

My passion is to travel to foreign countries and capture images of traditional architecture, people and unique landscapes. As an engineer, I tend to look down when I experience new places and take notice of things that most people miss: ancient sewage systems, stone curbs and gutters, and painted manhole covers.

On a recent trip to Osaka, Japan, I saw this manhole cover at the Shinsaibashi outdoor mall. While my travel companions were window-shopping, I was taking notice of the decorative manhole covers. I was the only one in my group who found them interesting enough to photograph.

Winning Photo 1307ww

PHOTOGRAPHER: Erika Murphy is a licensed civil engineer and amateur photographer. She is currently a Project Engineer for the City of Hillsboro, OR, Water Department. She has lived in Portland, Ore., for 15 years, except for a two-year stint as a civil engineer in Townsville, Australia, where she had an opportunity to explore Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia.


Second Place Photo:

New Orleans water meter covers have a beautiful design that represents the Crescent City well! This design is so popular that it has become the logo for our Sewerage and Water Board, the entity that operates and maintains the water, sewer and major portions of the drainage system for New Orleans. The design is a favorite subject of local artists and can be seen throughout the city on different items such as clock faces, coasters, key chains, T-shirts, and necklaces. New Orleanians are proud of our water meter covers!

I took this picture while on a site visit in the Lakeview area of New Orleans where my company is working on a water line replacement project. I was reviewing the location of water meters along a water line to be replaced and this cover caught my attention for a few reasons. As this design has gained popularity throughout the city, some covers have gone missing and are replaced with plain covers adorned only with the words "WATER METER." Seeing one of our beautiful covers is always of interest to me, a kind of treasure hunt for a civil engineer! I thought this one in particular had a nice look, as the blue paint (most likely painted by an operator to make the cover easy to find) has a weathered look, but the detail of the cover is still clear.

2nd Place 1307ww

PHOTOGRAPHER: Regina Cassanova is a licensed professional civil engineer in Louisiana, Florida and Texas with over 15 years of experience in the water/wastewater industry. She has worked extensively in the New Orleans area, as well as throughout the Gulf Coast region and overseas in Australia and the Middle East. Regina enjoys working on water and wastewater projects, including rehabilitation of pipelines, pump stations and treatment plants.


Third Place Photo:

This photo was taken for several reasons. The original manhole photo is used in educational material, such as flyers, handouts and on displays. The photo was then edited in Photoshop in the "Warhol" style to be used as mementos or gifts for departing managers, Board members, etc. We wanted something that represented our agency, with a pop of color!

3rd Place 1307ww

PHOTOGRAPHER: Julie Chadburn is a Compliance and Regulatory Affairs Administrator with the Clark County Water Reclamation District. She has held that position for nine years. Julie is responsible for intergovernmental affairs, environmental compliance, legislative affairs, and public education. She received a Master's Degree in Public Administration from George Mason University, and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Virginia Tech. Prior to working for the Clark County Water Reclamation District, Julie worked as the Environmental Coordinator for the Clark County Department of Aviation and as a Management Intern for the County Manager's office in Las Vegas, Nev.


Honorable Mentions

We received many great submissions for our manhole cover photo contest. Here are a few that deserve mention. Even though they didn't win, they are still wonderful examples of the beauty beneath our feet.

Austin Alexander 1307ww
Photo submitted by Austin Alexander.
Cindy Safronoff 1307ww
Photo submitted by Cindy Safronoff.
Lori Armstrong 1307ww
Photo submitted by Lori Armstrong.
Maria Bandeira 1307ww
Photo submitted by Maria Bandeira.
Ronald Sheets 1307ww
Photo submitted by Ronald Sheets.
Dennis Bentley 1307ww
Photo submitted by Dennis Bentley.

Watch for our next online photo contest. The theme will be wastewater infrastructure. Follow us on Facebook for details!

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