Dropped something down a sewage drain in Barcelona? Here’s how to get it back

Council offers a free service to retrieve items lost in any of the thousands of drains in the city

Image of a sewage drain in Barcelona (by Cillian Shields)
Image of a sewage drain in Barcelona (by Cillian Shields) / Cillian Shields & Guifré Jordan

Cillian Shields & Guifré Jordan | Barcelona

August 11, 2022 02:40 PM

September 19, 2022 07:46 PM


Ever dropped something down a drain on the street? It can be a hugely frustrating experience, and your belongings can often be tricky to retrieve. Keys, phones, AirPods: we typically carry around a lot of really valuable things we wouldn’t want to find ourselves stuck without.

Sometimes you can be forced into having to decide which is more valuable, the fallen object, or the time spent on futile attempts to fish the items out.

However, if you happen to drop something down a drain on the street in Barcelona, the city council can help you get it back

This is one of the services offered by the city council at no cost to residents. “It sounds like a lie but it’s a service quite often requested,” Daniel Christensen of Barcelona Cicle de l'Aigua tells Catalan News.

Barcelona Cicle de l'Aigua is the company that manages the city’s water systems, including its 1,650km of sewers underground fed into by around 76,000 street drains. They have a team of three people and one vehicle that helps people retrieve lost items whenever possible. 

Christensen explains that around 90% of the objects are saved, but unfortunately, for various reasons, not all items can be recovered. At first, the technician will evaluate to see if they can reach the items in a simple manner, but they will also open up the drain and enter the sewer if possible to search for the lost item. 

The service is completely free for residents, but the company estimates the cost of each recovery to be around €120 each time. 

If you’ve dropped something down a sewage drain on the streets of Barcelona and you want to try get it back, you can ring either 900 226 226, or else 010. That is if you have access to a phone, of course...  

The service is available during office hours on weekdays but closes on weekends and on public holidays. Additionally, if there is rain, it is often impossible to retrieve the item, as it will not be safe for the technicians to enter the sewer at that time, or else the water may possibly sweep the item away.