December 2010 -

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Snow hit South Tyneside village residents see an end to drainage problems

Monday, December 27th, 2010

Many areas of the UK have seen inches of snow fall already this winter, and it has caused various problems. Whilst transport was the main area in which the UK’s residents felt the effects, residents in the village of Cleadon also found themselves facing the problems of snow-blocked drains- which resulted in heavy flooding. Whilst many breathed a sigh of relief when the snowfall started to melt and subside earlier in the month, this certainly wasn’t the case for those living in the Cleadon Lea area, who found themselves having to contend with the aftermath- in the form of severe flooding. However, as plans to try and prevent homes from becoming flooded have now been given the go-ahead, future snowfall might not prove so disastrous. At a Boldon, Cleadon & Whitburn community area forum meeting, it was agreed that rather than carry out simple drain maintenance, the size of the existing drainage pipe would be doubled in size- from 150 mm to 300 mm- in a bid to put a stop to the problem of excess water flowing from nearby fields. One local councillor commented:

"We need to get some movement on this as soon as possible. I don't think it's acceptable to the residents that this hasn't been sorted out yet."
Whilst other proposals were put forward, the increased pipe capacity is likely to be the only significant change in the foreseeable future.

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Blocked sink this Christmas? Try these tips

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

Whilst it’s meant to be the most enjoyable time of the year, the festive season can be an extremely stressful one, and once you have spent hours- even days- slaving away in the kitchen cooking for all of your relatives, the last thing which you will then want to have to deal with is a blocked sink. Unfortunately though, it often doesn’t require much for a sink to become blocked, although if a problem does suddenly arise, it’s very important not to panic, and you should instead see if following these simple steps will help... - If water isn’t draining down the plug hole as quickly as it should be doing, one of the first things which you should attempt is to pour boiling water down it. This is particularly effective in eliminating blockages caused by food and fat which could be sitting in the pipe beneath your sink. - If the use of boiling water doesn’t prove fruitful, you should also try using a plunger to see if this makes any difference. - Failing these, if your local supermarket is open, invest in a special drain cleaning product which could prove more successful. If all of the above have no effect whatsoever, you could unfortunately be facing a bigger problem, in which case you should ring a drain maintenance professional.

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The impact of your Christmas dinner on the sewers

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Wessex Water provides the sewerage services and drain maintenance for 2.6 million people in the West region. On a daily basis Wessex Water are required to unblock around 18 sewers, however during the festive season this task is dramatically increased. Unfortunately many people do not appreciate the damaged that can be caused by disposing of the grease, fat and oil from their Christmas meals inappropriately. The solidifying fat poured down the drain can cause major problems to the sewerage network, causing many more blockages than would normally be experienced. The head of Wessex Water waste treatment, Nick Stone, stated:

"Blockages seriously affect the performance of sewers designed to remove waste water from homes and businesses, and can result in flooding inside properties causing extensive damage or external flooding that could lead to pollution of watercourses. "Our advice is to never pour fat, oil or grease down the sink, but instead, carefully dispose of it with your household rubbish. "Hot fats, which cool quickly and solidify in drains and sewers, along with other disposable items, cause three-quarters of blockages in sewers. "This is a particular problem at Christmas, when it is estimated that 25 per cent more fat ends up in drains and sewers,"

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Big Dave – The sewer investigator

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Over the Christmas period, few will be thinking of the impact our Christmas turkeys are having on the sewers. Unfortunately, there are still a large proportion of people who dispose of the fat from their turkey by pouring it down the sink. The effect that this solidifying fat can have on the sewers can be problematic for those responsible for drain maintenance. In order to help combat this festive challenge in the North West, United Utilities are using the services of their latest high tech recruit, Big Dave. Big Dave is an all terrain robot, who will be patrolling the sewer system in the Manchester area. Dave will be searching out the festive fat, using his six all terrain wheels, lighting rig and mechanised camera. Dave can access areas which are inaccessible to United Utilities other employees, which means the problem can be dealt with more effectively than waiting for Dave’s colleagues to excavate the drain. Of course this problem could be stopped and Big Dave’s services used in other ways, if people disposed of their cooking fat in a more responsible manner. Fat should be allowed to harden and disposed of in the bin, along with other cooking waste.

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Welsh water company fined after raw sewage enters lake

Monday, December 20th, 2010

D?r Cymru, the Welsh Water company has been fined £3,800 after a deteriorating drainage system allowed raw sewage to enter a lake in Llanberis. Llyn Padarn Lake was polluted in April when a cast iron pipe broke and sewage made its way into the lake via Afon Goch. The Environment Agency were quickly made aware of the pollution and posted signs so people did not use the lake. Upon further investigation there was no evidence that any wildlife that used the lake died as a consequence. The north Wales area manager for the Environment Agency stated:

"It's disappointing that this happened, and in such an environmentally sensitive area and one that relies on the recreational use of the lake."
He also stated that he was pleased that D?r Cymru was making steps in the right direction and the Environment agency was:
"encouraged that since this incident the company's attitude towards its environmental obligations in the area has been positive,"
Further elaborating on the case he commented:
"Prevention is better than cure, and we will be working closely with the company to try and prevent incidents of this type recurring,

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Maintenance or cleaning?

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

When assessing the best interests of the drains in their property, one of the first and main causes of confusion centres around whether drains need to be cleaned or maintained. However, you shouldn’t have to make the choice between drain maintenance and cleaning, as they are both equally important. If you have had more pressing home maintenance matters to deal with over the last few years, attending to your property’s drains is likely to have been low down on your list of priorities- which may mean that they’re not in the very best state. However, by enlisting the services of a drain maintenance professional and opting for a CCTV survey, any areas which need immediate attention or attention in the future can quickly and easily be identified. A CCTV survey involves inserting a small camera into the drain, and images are then transmitted onto a computer screen. Through assessing these images, the professionals can then look closely at the structure and condition of drains. So before you opt for simple drain cleaning take a look at the bigger picture and save time, expense and inconvenience in the future.

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Severn Trent Water free water saver’s pack

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

Severn Trent Water are giving away loads of free water saving devices so their customers can save money on their water bills (if they have a meter) and money on their energy bills. Severn Trent Water supply water to over 8 million customers in the UK. They recently invested over £7.8m in the refurbishment and replacement of the sewer system in Leamington Spa and their improved leakage performance has been recognised by Ofwat. The free items available include: The ShowerSave This device screws between the shower mixer and the hose to the shower head. It’s not suitable for electric showers, but when installed on a standard mixer shower it can save 11,000 litres of hot water every year. The reduction in the amount of hot water you use will reduce your energy bill, and the reduction in the amount of water you use will reduce your water bill. The Severn Trent website claims a monetary saving or £40 per year after the device is fitted. Save a flush device When you place the save a flush bag into your toilet cistern, you will save around one litre of water every time you flush. This equates to a saving of £9 a year if you are on a water meter. You just need to visit the Severn Trent Water website to find out more.

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Caroline Lucas gives Southern Water customers drainage advice

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Britain’s first Green party MP, Caroline Lucas, has given her support to an initiative by Southern Water to encourage businesses to stop pouring waste cooking oils and fats down the sink and dispose of food waste as earthworm feed, instead of putting it in the general waste. Southern Water state that around 75% of all drain blockages in the South of England are caused by residents putting fats and oils into their drains. When the fat solidifies it causes a blockage that has to be jetted or excavated to be removed. As part of the initiative Southern Water wants customers to be aware that solidified fats can have damaging effects to the nation’s drains and have enlisted the help of Magpie, who will provide collection and recycling facilities for waste fats and oils. Caroline Lucas stated: “Sending food waste to landfill and oils down the sewers can have a negative impact on the environment. Offering oils and food waste collection to our residents is not only a great way to cut down on waste but also a good and sound way to protect the environment.”

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United Utilities report on £3.6 billion investment

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

United Utilities have just announced that they have made a successful start to their £3.6 billion investment in the North West’s water and waste water systems. The scheme began in April 2010 and since then the water company have completed projects on a new West East link water pipeline between Liverpool and Manchester, a £10 million sewer expansion scheme in Middlewich and a £114 million sewer expansion scheme in Preston. The spend by United Utilities is expected to add £7bn to the region’s economy and create 9,000 jobs for those people who operate drain maintenance and construction companies. Philip Green, the CEO of United Utilities stated:

"We have made a good start to the new investment programme, launching a diverse range of projects which are delivering major benefits to householders and the environment, while supporting thousands of local jobs. "Earlier this year, United Utilities completed its transformation from a business with water, electricity and gas interests into a streamlined company focused exclusively on providing water and wastewater services. Going forward, this narrower focus will allow the company to continue to deliver an even better service to its seven million customers across the region."

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School in Liverpool meets the Sewer Monster

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

The pupils of Heygreen Primary school were in for a surprise when United Utilities waste water network manager, Sammy Nelson, paid them a visit; he brought along his very own sewer monster. The Sewer monster, which has been featuring on You Tube, is part of the water company’s ongoing campaign to inform people what things should put in the general waste and not down the toilet. Pupils at the school learnt that things such as cotton buds, nappies and wipes should all be put into the bathroom bin and not be flushed down the toilet. He stated:

"The children loved seeing the monster and talking about the grisly topic of sewers and toilets, but they had a very clear understanding of what should and should not be flushed away - and hopefully they'll teach their parents to be just as responsible."
Blockages caused by putting incorrect items into the drainage system cost United Utilities many thousands of pounds each year to repair. When blocked, the waste can flow onto the pavement or even back-up into the customer’s home. They are currently called to 15,000 public sewer blockages every year.

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