November 2012 -

Have A Problem?




CCTV survey equipment

Friday, November 30th, 2012

The drains which leave domestic and commercial properties and the public sewers which carry the waste to sewage treatment works across the city of London do not always work without problems. In fact, because most of London’s drainage system was built over one hundred years ago the drainage experts across the capital find themselves battling every day with drain blockages of different types. From simple blockages caused by the build-up of silt and other natural occurring substances, to blockages caused by the disposal of liquid fat, it’s clear to see that drainage engineers have their work cut out to keep the city’s drains and sewers working properly. The different types of CCTV survey equipment One of the biggest advances in drainage technology over the past few years has been the introduction of CCTV survey equipment. Instead of blindly digging up a section of sewer to find the cause of a blockage it is now possible to insert a small camera into a drain or a sewer to visually inspect the problem before suggestions on a possible fix can be made. There are a few different types of CCTV survey equipment. These include: • Small micro cameras fitted to the end of a length of tubing which can be inserted into small diameter pipes and voids. LED lighting is fitted to the camera so clear images of the inside of the pipe can be relayed to a computer screen. • Adjustable CCTV cameras - to enable a full visual inspection of the pipework some types of CCTV survey equipment is fitted with rotating cameras which can pan and tilt whilst inside the pipe. These can survey joints or defects in the pipe quickly and easily. • Electrically driven tractor units - for larger pipes it might be necessary to insert an electrically driven tractor unit or crawler

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CCTV drainage survey in London

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Perhaps the most difficult part of a drainage engineer’s job is finding out where a sewer is blocked. Most drainage engineers will resort to a using drain jetting equipment when a blockage occurs in the hope that the high pressure jet of water is powerful enough to blast though the clog. However if jetting fails the engineer may have to resort to CCTV survey equipment. CCTV survey equipment is a fairly new type of technology which drainage experts use to see inside a drain. The equipment essentially consists of a small camera which is inserted into the drain either on a pushed rod or on a remote controlled device. The camera, with lighting equipment, is pushed through the drain so that images can be relayed back to the surface. These images are interpreted by the drainage expert who’ll be able to asses the condition of the drain and explain the cause of the blockage. By having this information to hand the engineer may then also be able to discuss a possible remedy. Most drain blockage problems that are not able to be shifted using jetting equipment are caused by root intrusion into the pipe or by the disposal of non-flushable items into the drainage system.

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“Stop using wipes” says Thames Water

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Waste water companies are trying to educate the general public about ‘what to flush’ after the incidence of non-flushable items found in their drainage systems continues to rise year-on-year. Over the last couple of years there has been a trend for the general public to use supposedly flushable wipes as well as standard toilet tissue. However most of these flushable wipes are not flushable at all and can end up blocking sewers and causing waste water problems. The problems with these new type of wipes is that they do not break down at the speed of standard toilet tissue, so if they are caught on the inside of the drainage pipes they provide a haven for other items to become lodged increasing the incidence of waste blockages. London drainage company Thames Water have sponsored a small company who are trying to solve the problem. Freshu are makers of an antibacterial foaming gel which can be applied to standard toilet tissue. Their ‘Keep the wipes out of the pipes’ campaign is being run in conjunction with Thames Water who have seen the incidence of people using wipes increase dramatically in the last year. Freshu say their gel leaves you feeling ‘shower fresh after using the loo’. Their product is a great innovation which should help reduce the incidence of sewer flooding. However the main problem still lies with unwitting ignorance of the general public, with many people still believing they can flush all sorts of items down the toilet.

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To flush or not to flush

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

In an attempt to try to understand what the public believes to be flushable and non-flushable items, London drainage company Thames Water are hosting a ‘To flush, or not to flush?’ survey on their website. Thames Water want to find out what their customers know about the problems associated with blocked drains in London so are conducting a survey to find out more. The survey is relatively short and asks the general public to identify items they can flush and items they can’t flush. Customers are asked to highlight any of the items they have flushed down their toilet over the past six months, options include: • Make-up wipes • Sanitary towels • Cotton buds • Cooking fat • Tampons • Kitchen roll • Left over food The drainage pipes and sewers that lead away from our homes are only designed to carry human waste and toilet tissue. Any other waste which is flushed has the potential to cause a blockage in the drainage pipes, which may leave your property at the mercy of sewer flooding in your garden or even your home. All of the above listed items can’t be flushed down the toilet and should be disposed of in the general waste.

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Waste water found in Edmonton lake

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

London drainage company Thames Water has made a public apology after sewage was allowed to seep into a lake in Edmonton. The incident occurred on Friday the 16th November and was discovered by passers-by who reeled at the foul stench coming from the water’s surface. Thames Water and the Environment Agency investigated the leak and found that a sewage pipe had become blocked resulting in the waste water overflowing into the lake in Pymmes Park. Pumps were put into the lake by the London drain company to aerate the water in an attempt to save any wildlife. A spokesperson for Thames Water said:

"Any pollution incident is deeply regrettable and we’re very sorry for the damage this has caused. "A blockage on a sewer caused waste water to overflow into a surface drain and flow into Pymmes Park lake."
Pymmes Brook was not affected by the spill. Campaigners are asking Thames Water to put a plan into place which will stop this type of flooding at times of heavy rainfall or when pipes become blocked.

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Millions of litres of raw sewage leak in London rivers due to sewer misconnections

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Thames Water has released estimated figures which reveal that nearly four million litres of raw sewage enters the rivers in the London area due to incorrectly connected sewer pipes. The problems with misconnected pipes occur when household drains are connected to the wrong sewer system which releases the waste as rain water into rivers and streams. A Thames Water spokesperson said:

“Too often this problem is ‘out of sight, out of mind’. But it is significant, and we want to properly enforce compliance, along with local authorities, because it will make a big difference.”
The problem is not confined to households, as businesses are also guilty of releasing their waste, albeit unwittingly, into the rainwater drains. Items such as dishwashers, washing machines, toilet and basins should all discharge into the public sewer system but they are commonly connected to the wrong type of drain. London drainage engineers estimate that as many as one in ten premises may be affected, with local councils responsible for making sure homeowners fix the problem. However Thames Water believes this is not enough and is asking for new laws to be implemented which would make households comply. Thames Water submitted evidence to the government saying that only a minor change would see significant benefits:
“While companies are accountable for tackling this pollution, enforcing work at private properties to address it is the responsibility of local authorities, who are not incentivised or always resourced to give it the priority it warrants. “Granting companies these powers, in addition to local authorities, would make the resolution of misconnections potentially more efficient for local authorities, companies and customers. It would represent a minor regulatory change for a significant environmental benefit.”

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Reading sewer works to finish two weeks early

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Thames Water sewer works on Blagrave Street in Reading are expected to finish this weekend, two weeks earlier than anticipated. Drainage engineers have been working in and around Blagrave Street since the beginning of July, replacing a damaged sewer pipe which is located over eight metres below the surface. The sewer suffered a collapse last December but it took six months until plans were put in place to instigate a repair. The head of programme delivery at Thames water Andrew Popple said:

“This has been a particularly difficult job due to the depth of the sewer and the fact it is located on such a busy junction. “We’d like to thank people for their patience while this work has been done and hope those affected feel they have been kept informed as our work has progressed.”
The road is now due to reopen on the 11th of November. MP for Reading east, Rob Wilson said:
“This has been a major piece of emergency work and Thames Water has managed to get this done with the least amount of disruption possible. “To finish early is a real credit as the engineers have been faced with an incredibly complex job.”

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Don’t use wet wipes, use foam gel says Thames Water

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

A new antibacterial foaming gel is being promoted by London drainage company Thames Water in a bid to stop homeowners from using wet wipes which block the sewer system. The new gel: Freshu is the brainchild of a former Oxford University student who wanted to develop a liquid which could be used in conjunction with regular toilet paper without it disintegrating. The new solution is a viable alternative to using wet wipes which do not break down and add to Thames Water’s £12m spend every year on unblocking the region’s sewers. The new gel gives the same wiping experience as a wet wipe but without the problems: The head of affinity partnerships at Thames Water, Nick Sumption said:

“We never expected to be discussing this but we have to adapt to the changes in our customers’ behaviour, and research indicates that using wet wipes is a growing phenomenon,” "The problem with wet wipes is that they do not break down like loo roll does, and they can cause nasty blockages in our sewers, which can in some cases lead to sewage backing up into people homes and gardens. “Freshu is used on normal toilet paper, so it won’t block your pipes or ours. Remember: keep the wipes out of the pipes.”
Freshu foam can be ordered from the Thames Water website.

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