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uni'alumni 2013_ENG

Ihave the best job in the world,” says Daniel Cartis and scrubs back and forth so hard in the little canal that water sprays up to the left and right. He is out in the fresh air in all seasons, meets a lot of nice people every day, and has a job that isn’t quite like any other job in the world. Cartis is responsible for cleaning Freiburg’s “Bächle,” the picturesque little canals that line the streets of the old town. His employer of twelve years is the waste management and sanitization department of the City of Freiburg. Five days a week, the 52-year-old and his two co- workers are out in the streets fighting against litter and algae with their steel wire brooms. Bächle Boat Traffic Jam His workday begins at six o’clock. Cartis has to clean more than eight kilometers of Bächle in the old town – freeing them of yesterday’s litter and the things left behind by last night’s partygoers. Ciga- rette butts, empty glass or plastic bottles, price tags, plastic wrap, wallets, mobile phones, keys, coffee cups: There is literally nothing Cartis has not yet discovered in the Bächle. “In the summer we’re constantly finding unopened bottles – whisky, ver- mouth, or a six-pack,” he says. The alcohol isn’t left behind on purpose: Many people put their bottles in the canals to cool them, underestimating the strength of the current or the water’s depth at the points where the Bächle disappear underground. The bot- tles get caught in the grill covering these drainage points and are recuperated by the Bächle cleaners. Congestion like this at the grills is not something the Bächle cleaners like to see. It interferes with the natural flow of the more than 15.5 kilometers of Bächle in Freiburg’s old town, almost half of which run underground. Tourists often ask Daniel Cartis about the canals and their history. He sends them to Herrenstraße at Oberlinden or to Rathausplatz and Turmstraße, where they can marvel at Bächle that are almost 800 years old. The entire network of Bächle is still supplied with water from the Drei- sam River. The slope from Oberlinden in the south- east of the old town to Unterlinden in the southwest is eight meters – after all, the water has to flow. And it does flow, as long as nothing gets in its way. One common obstruction is so-called Bächle boats. Cartis and his colleagues fish dozens of the little wooden vessels out of the tiny canals in the summer months, because people are always losing sight of them. The boats then hit the next drainage grill at full tilt. “Recently we had a big jam. We wondered how it could have happened, until we found ten boats linked together at the grill,” remembers Cartis. The hardest part of the job is the so-called “Bachabschlag,” a two- to three-week period, usually in October, when all of the water is drained from the Bächle for maintenance and repair. “We keep a list of things that are damaged during the summer,” explains Cartis. The main priority is stones that have been corroded by water and salt over the past year and need to be sealed and fixed in place again. When there is no water flowing through the Bächle, the cleaners also have to sweep harder, because the things that are usually swept away by the water lie abandoned at the bot- tom of the canal – waiting for Cartis’ broom. AUSBLICK Claudia Füßler Man at work: Daniel Cartis has worked as a Bächle cleaner for twelve years. Photo: Kunz Steel Wires against Litter and Algae Daniel Cartis is one of three “Bächle” cleaners in Freiburg PORTRAIT Steel Wires against Litter and Algae PORTRAIT 32