March 2012 -

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New book highlights the cleanliness of Britain’s rivers

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

A new book has revealed that an increasing number of rivers in urban areas are now so clean that anglers have started to fly-fish in them again. Many urban rivers were heavily polluted during the industrial revolution and for many decades following, as the country used them as an easy way of disposing of waste. However, many rivers have become so clean that they can once again support aquatic populations, meaning trout and grayling are returning in large numbers. Theo Pike, who wrote ‘Trout in Dirty Places’, marvels at how the fish have returned to rivers in London, Manchester and Glasgow. He puts the fish’s return down to the vast sums which have been spent on sewage treatment after privatisation a few decades ago. Mr Pike stated:

"This has been a quiet revolution over the last 30 years, and I have gradually come to realise that in Britain's towns and cities, there is probably now more water with trout and grayling living happily in it, than without."
One exception says Mr Pike is the Thames in London, which is still polluted by sewage which overflows from storm water outlets whenever there is over 2mm of rainfall. He states:
"While the Thames is an awful lot cleaner than it was a few decades ago, it still has major problems in that whenever more than 2mm of rain falls in west London, vast quantities of raw sewage get dumped into the river by the antiquated sewage system,"
To tackle the sewage problems in the city of London, Thames Water are in the consultation stages of a 24 mile-long ‘super sewer’ which when complete, in around 2020, will stop most of the sewage flowing into the Thames.

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Why CCTV surveys are so important

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

One of the tools that drainage experts use to tackle blockages in sewers and drains is the CCTV survey. Blocked or damaged drains can cause serious problems, which can be a real headache for homeowners. In the worst case scenario raw sewage can actually enter homes and can cause a significant amount of damage. What is a CCTV survey? CCTV surveys can be used by drainage companies to find the exact cause of a blocked drain immediately. A camera is inserted into the drain and images are relayed to the surface where the team of drain maintenance experts can review the pictures and decide on the most appropriate course of action. Using a CCTV survey also locates the exact position of the drain blockage so that pinpoint repairs can be made. There are a few reasons why drains become blocked: • Scale build up • Silt deposits • Settlement of dirt and debris • Build up of fat • Damaged or deteriorating drainage pipes When the team of drainage experts have a reasonable idea what might be causing the problem they can tackle the problem quickly and effectively using either high pressure water jetting or another pertinent drain repair option.

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London needs the Thames Tunnel, says Martin Baggs

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

A report by Thames Water has set out the business case for the Thames Tunnel to be built. London’s proposed super-sewer would create over 9,000 jobs if it gets through the consultation process, which would help the city through the current economic downturn. The report entitled ‘Why does London’s economy need the Thames Tunnel’ claims that the massive project would create around 4,000 construction jobs in the capital, with a further 5,000 jobs created indirectly. The construction of the tunnel is expected to begin in 2016, but ministers have yet to decide how the tunnel will be funded and how the project will be delivered. The chief executive of Thames Water, Martin Baggs, stated:

“To retain its place as a world-leading business hub and tourist destination, London urgently needs the Thames Tunnel. As well as protecting the river and ensuring compliance with important legal standards, the project will also be a much-needed boost for the capital’s economy. “It is set to create long overdue career and training opportunities for a whole new generation of young engineers. That’s not to mention the knock-on wealth-creating opportunities it will present for local businesses.”

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Sewer problems in Tadworth

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Thames Water has finally solved a sewer problem in Tadworth which left raw sewage seeping out of manhole covers onto the road and across footpaths. The sewer problems started in Preston Lane a couple of weeks ago and recent visits by Thames Water had believed to have solved the problem. But after another incident early last week, Thames Water arrived on Thursday and jetted a 300metre section of drain, which they now hope will put an end to the problem for good. A spokesperson commented on the recurrent problem before it was rectified last Thursday. She said:

"We thought we had resolved this, but the issue returned yesterday and we have since decided to do a full clean of the sewer pipe, nearly 300m in length, to remove the fat and grease which we believe is causing this blockage." "Pouring cooking fat and grease down the drain really causes problems for our sewer pipes. "It may pour down the sink easy enough, but when it hits the sewer it gets cold and forms hideous ‘fatbergs’ which block the network and causes the waste to back-up like it has done here."

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Don’t block it – bin it

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

Perhaps the most common reason for a drain blockage in the city of London is the liquid fat that is deposited down the drains by unwitting homeowners and commercial property owners who do not realise the damage that can be caused. Many people still carry out the practice of disposing of liquid fat down their drains. And this can not only be a long-term problem, it can also be a problem which causes heartache in the short term too. When fat is disposed of down the drain it can quickly cool and solidify into a mass of immovable gunk. This mass is then a sticky haven for anything else which is disposed of down the drain, so blockages quickly follow. Every year thousands are spent by water companies who try to educate people on what can and what can’t be put down drain, but unfortunately the practice continues. Drainage engineers in London luckily have a few tricks up their sleeves to solve drainage problems caused by fat. And their best tool in their arsenal to solve fat-bergs is called high pressure water jetting. In the pressure jetting process the team of drainage engineers direct a stream of water down the drain, which blasts the fat from the insides of the drainage pipes. This fat can either then be washed through the system or retrieved via the nearest manhole cover.

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Road closure in Cambridge due to sewer problem

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Emergency sewer work on a busy street in Cambridge started on Monday the 19th of March after Anglian Water announced that a suitable time had now been agreed with the local council. The sewer repairs on Sidney Street in the city centre will see the road closed to traffic for around a month while the repairs take place. Sewers at a level of three metres below the surface need to be repaired to stop future sewer problems occurring. Some local traders are worried that they will see a drop in trade when the road is closed. Anglian Water spokesperson Antony Innes said:

“We have been aware of problems with this sewer since late last year and have been working with the council to find a suitable time to complete these works. “In agreement with the council, these works have been planned to coincide with Sidney Sussex College’s Easter period so that disruption to the local area can be minimised. “Unfortunately, some disruption and inconvenience will be inevitable which is why we wanted to let businesses and customers know what is going on and why. “Work on the sewer system is never ideal but it is essential that we take this opportunity to fully repair the collapse and reduce the chances of problems in the future.”

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Flood prevention scheme gets underway in Hessle

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Yorkshire Water started a project at the beginning of this week which the firm hopes will stop sewer flooding in the Hessle area. At times of heavy rainfall the sewers in Hessle struggle to cope with the excess amount of water. A £770,000 scheme, which will see the installation of a storm water tank, aims to alleviate this. The large underground waste storage tank will be installed by Yorkshire Water contractors Mott MacDonald Bentley on the grassed area in Barrow Lane. At times of heavy rainfall this storage tank will hold the excess water before it is pumped away when the system is not overloaded. The tank can hold over 535,000 litres of water. In other work on site Mott MacDonald will also increase the size of the sewer in Barrow Lane. The director of asset delivery at Yorkshire water was quoted as saying in the Hull Daily Mail:

"The work we are doing will increase the storage capacity in the network and mean local properties are better protected than ever before."
There will be a small section of Barrow Lane closed while the work takes place but restrictions are expected to be lifted by the end of May.

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Sewage spill causes devastation to two lakes on the River Lea

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Thames Water, in conjunction with the Environment Agency, is currently investigating an incident which saw raw sewage enter part of the River Lea in Bedfordshire. The ‘significant’ pollution event took place at the end of February and saw sewage enter two fish lakes which form part of the river. A blocked sewer in Luton is thought to be the cause of the problem, which has decimated fish stocks at the private estate owned by Elite hotels. The Environment Agency stopped the pollution at its source and has since tried to stop it flowing downstream. Thames Water is in the process of tacking the blocked sewer. It has been estimated that around 1,000 small fish have died as a result of the sewer leak, with experts saying that the lakes will take around 18 months to recover. The environmental management team leader Jenny Melvin commented:

"This is a significant sewage pollution incident which has caused the death of a large number of fish. "It's distressing to see such damage to a beautiful part of our environment, which will impact on the local community and particularly anglers who enjoy fishing the lakes. "We have started an investigation into its cause."

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Hull sewers rejuvenated by fat-busting bacteria

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Yorkshire Water is deploying their fat-busting bacteria in the sewers of Hull to try to remove some of the city’s most severe fat deposits. The North of England water company have used fat-eating bacteria before on York’s sewer system, and because the removal technique was so successful they are using the same system to remove the fat from the sewers in Hull. In the last six months alone teams of drainage engineers from Yorkshire Water have attended over 1,700 drain cleaning jobs in Hull where drains have become blocked. The fat in the city’s sewers builds up when homeowners unwittingly pour cooking fat down plug holes. When cool, the fat solidifies and sticks to the insides of the pipes creating a congealed mess. Just last year alone Yorkshire Water removed over 2,000 tonnes of grease from the sewer pipes it maintains. The pollution manager at Yorkshire water was quoted as saying on the BBC:

"We continue to encourage customers to think before they pour things like fat down their sink, we're also looking at new and innovative approaches to tackling this age old problem to support current practices such as jetting sewers with a high pressure hose. "The deployment of fat-busting bugs in our sewer network is an example of this, with these 'good' bacteria literally feasting on solidified fat in our sewer.”

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Engineer hopes sewer ‘invention’ will act as early warning system

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

A 25 year old Bradford inventor has taken his newest device to London in an attempt to gain recognition for his work. Andrew Nichols is a research engineer at Bradford University and has developed a system which can detect problems in sewers. Mr Nichol’s device uses sensors along the length of sewer pipes which pick up untoward sound signals. The sounds can be analysed and problems such as lack of water flow or increased water flow can be determined. He commented in the Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

“The great thing about this device is that it can pick up early on problems and stop flooding, sewers are a good example of where it would be used. I’ll be telling people at the London presentation that based on yearly figures from the Thames there were 81 properties in the city over the last year that had sewage coming into their homes because of blockages that weren’t picked up until it was too late. “This device could stop a lot of homes and properties being damaged.”
There are devices which are currently being used in sewers which work in a similar way, but these have to be inserted into the actual water flow to take readings. Mr Nichol’s new device can work above the water surface making it easier to install and reduce maintenance time.

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