Clean Water Shreveport Blog

The History of Manhole Covers

Sewage systems have been around nearly since the dawn of civilization. The ancient Roman Empire built aqueducts to transport not only water to the city but waste away from it. Once mankind began burying their pipes to carry sewage, they needed a way to access these lines, and these access points came to be known as manholes.

Despite how long sewer lines have been around, manholes were not the first access points for workers. Designers knew that a new underground system would need a way to access the pipes. To fulfill this need, they added points along the plumbing known as lamp holes. These holes were between 10 and 13 inches in diameter, depending on the materials used.

Due to the restricted size, the lamp holes didn’t accommodate an average person. They were only good for shining a light down to verify the system was flowing normally.

Realizing they needed a way to access the gravity sewer, engineers began adding man-sized holes or “manholes” to the sewage lines. It is common to see these gaps in the streets and sidewalks. They are covered by manhole covers to keep pedestrians from falling in or injuring themselves in the open holes.

To date, the City has currently inspected 15,500+ manholes through Shreveport’s Clean Water Consent Decree Program.

Visit for more information on Shreveport’s Consent Decree Program


Educational Blog