Ahh yes.. water filled handholes! Reminds me of a service call to a Price Club/Costco to troubleshoot parking lot lights which would keep tripping the breakers (480V)... (wish I had my digicam then!) I went with another electrician to this call.. The store manager said as soon at the timers throw, the breakers trip.. We went & opened up a few hand holes in the poles & found nothing unusual.. then over by the tire shop, we found an underground box (marked irrigation controls!) in a low section of the p-lot.. opened it up & it was full of water.. tests showed no voltage so we shop-vac'ed the water out & found a bunch of #8's someone had spliced together with regular red wirenuts.. a few of them showed signs of burning...
with everyone well away from this thing, I went back to attempt to restore power to see if this was involved with the lights... I reset the circuits & stuck my head out the electrical room door... Sean was standing about 5 feet from the box, which had flames & sparks shooting about 10 feet in the air from it! The store manager jumped scared silly into one of the bays of the tire center hiding behind some Michelins
Sean yells out "Hey, I think this might be it!"
Had to repull all runs from this box due to most of them being burned into the conduits.. (this box to the panel was 457') & used some sort of underground/waterproof splicing taps Sean had.. made by 3M... then wrapped them with friction tape & then electrical tape... We went back & checked the box the next morning & again a month later when the box was underwater again to make sure there was no voltage leak... Some sort of GFCI protection for this would've had me sleeping alot easier though!
PS, while broken street covers here in CA seem rare from my experience.. hand holes & J-boxes for street lighting equiptment on the freeways seem to be missing in alot of places.. There's a fusible disconnect for a lighted fwy sign on the 101 Fwy thats been without cover since at least the early 90s!