One year on from the devastating floods that affected Cumbria, the estimated total cost of the repairs is thought to be in the region of £275m.

Cumbria County Council released figures which show that £34 m has been spent on the county’s transport network, £91m has been spent on residential properties and £124m has been spent on damage to commercial and business properties and infrastructure.

Insurance has paid for many of the costs, but charity has also picked up some of the tab. Cumbria County Council leader Councillor Eddie Martin stated:

“The Cumbrian spirit has triumphed and I believe the county has successfully bounced back from its biggest natural disaster in recent memory. It has not been easy, it’s taken a gargantuan effort to rebuild communities, restore services and repair most of the wreckage wrought.

“A small number are still waiting to return to their homes or are lamenting the loss of a business which never got back on its feet.

“The floods brought an immense amount of damage – both physical and emotional – but everyone who has seen the way communities have responded has been impressed and humbled by the strength of spirit here.

“There is still work to be done – a few bridges still need to be built and repaired and we need to consider the best ways to protect communities in the future from similar disasters. But Team Cumbria can be justifiably proud of all it has achieved in the last year.”

United Utilities had a huge undertaking of coping with bridges collapsing, surface water being unable to drain and sewers overflowing. Their spokesperson Polly Rourke stated:

“Our staff went above and beyond the call of duty and worked around the clock with the emergency services and other authorities to restore services.

“Many of the staff involved live as well as work in the communities affected by the terrible flooding and were personally affected by what happened. In terms of our water and wastewater services, they held up remarkably well.

“A footbridge at Backbarrow next to a sewer pipe was severely damaged by the storms and collapsed, threatening to take the pipe with it. United Utilities, alongside other agencies, removed the bridge to prevent further damage to the pipe.”

Many homeowners don’t think to check their drainage systems until things start to go wrong, an oversight that could cost them a lot of money and trouble if their drains overflow.

Drainage systems can only work to their fullest potential if they are properly maintained. The build up of waste products can cause the diameter of the drainage pipe to reduce which over time can lead to a drain blockage.

Other things that can lead to blocked drains include:

  • The irresponsible disposal of ‘non-flushable’ items into the waste system
  • The disposal of liquid fats and grease into the drain
  • The build up of garden debris
  • Collapsed sewer pipes, due to age or damage
  • The build up of pipe scale

If a homeowner suspects that they have a blocked drain, it is always better to give a drain inspection company a call instead of waiting for the problem to worsen. They have all the necessary equipment at their disposal which they can use to deal with the blockage.

One of the most effective methods you can use to get rid of a drain blockage is high pressure water jetting. In this process the drain engineer directs a jet of high pressure water into the drainage system, which is usually enough to break down any clog that may be causing the problem.

A brilliant new website launched by the toilet cleaning product manufacturer Domestos has lifted the lid on the nation’s sewer systems. Flush Tracker, which was launched to coincide with World Toilet Day on the 19th of November, lets you track the location of your most recent toilet visit as it makes its way to your local treatment works.

The computer software uses Google maps, with a superimposed blue highlight path which tracks the position of your latest toilet visit. The website has quickly become a favourite amongst Twitter followers and has generated a lot of interest online.

Domestos wanted to highlight the fact that 2.5billion people don’t have access to a toilet or sewage system around the world when they created the site and also to have a bit of fun.

Drain maintenance

We rely on our drains on a daily basis to carry the waste from our homes. However, we put little thought into their maintenance until things start to go wrong. Drain inspection experts can look into your drainage system using CCTV survey cameras to check the condition of your drains. They can then suggest appropriate repairs or just give them a clean bill of health.

A Peacehaven waste water treatment scheme has reached a milestone in the construction of the system, with one of two boring machines making a breakthrough at Marine Drive pumping station.

The tunnels will link new wastewater treatment works to the existing Victorian sewer system.

Two Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) are digging tunnels in lengths in excess of 10km at depths of up to 42 metres underground. The scheme is being delivered by Brighton and Hive 4Delivery Ltd. Their spokesperson for the scheme Craig Reade stated:

“This is a fantastic achievement by the team. The first tunnel breakthrough is a significant milestone in this complex project and I am pleased to share with our client the recognition of the site team’s hard work and effort since the start of the project over a year ago.”

The machine which made the breakthrough ‘Alice’, will now return to Ovingdean where tunnelling will begin on a new 3.6km tunnel to Portabello pumping station.

There are about 95 million litres of waste water that need to be treated each day by residents in the Brighton, Hove, Saltdean, Rottingdean, Ovingdean, Telscombe Cliffs and Peacehaven areas.

A local councillor’s home was flooded after an inspection drain overflowed in Colwyn Bay.

Councillor Don Porter noticed the problems at his home on Rivieres Avenue last week when his toilet would not flush properly. Councillor Porter who is a representative for Glyn Ward said he had plumbing problems earlier in the week.

He stated:

“We’d noticed on Saturday night that the toilet wouldn’t flush properly. We went out to find there was a problem with the main drains. I lifted the inspection hatch and it was full to the brim.”

An engineer was sent to the site with high pressure jetting equipment to try to shift the blockage.

However the jetting did not initially clear the drain, so Welsh Water conducted a CCTV survey of the sewer system. The flooding was put down to a section of private drainage pipe which had actually caused the problem. Councillor Porter stated:

“They cleared out the inspection drain, but there was no drop in water levels. The next morning, when I got up, the water was pouring through.”

Drain inspection engineers have a range of techniques that they can use to locate and solve problems with drainage systems.

After pollution in a stream in Midhurst, Southern Water has repeated its statement to customers to not pour fats into their drainage systems.

Due to a built up of fatty deposits, a sewer became blocked causing raw sewage to escape through a manhole cover and find its way into a nearby stream in Midhurst.

The Environment Agency was informed of the incident by Southern Water.
Paul Kent the Wastewater Strategy Manager stated:

“Cooking fat tipped down the sink can spell disaster for our sewers. Over time, it builds up and solidifies, blocking the entire pipe. This can cause flooding as sewage is forced to escape through manholes and into streets and rivers or, even worse, into homes.

“Our message is that simple measures can slim down your chance of fat, oil and grease blocking sewers, and we can avoid the kind of pollution we saw in Midhurst yesterday.”

To stop fats entering the drainage system, residents can wait for any liquid fat to cool and solidify and then dispose of it in the general rubbish. Some local councils also have a waste fat recycling scheme available at their local recycling centre where residents can dispose of collected fats.

After a Prescot business was fined for discharging trade effluent into the public sewer system, United Utilities has sent a reminder to companies based in Liverpool to ask them to be mindful of their waste disposal actions.

At a recent hearing at Knowsley Magistrates’ Court, a local chemical company was fined £2,500 and just under £10,000 in costs after they were found guilty on five counts of discharging trade effluent containing toxic metals and chloroform into the public sewer system.

Companies that produce effluent as part of their manufacturing processes have to keep to agreed limits with regard to the amount of waste they discharge and have to apply for a special consent to discharge before they can dispose of the waste.

The Waste Water Operations Technical Manager for United Utilities, Craig Waddell, stated:

“Limits on trade effluent are there to protect the environment and the general public and prevent problems such as sewer blockages.

“It’s vitally important that companies follow the rules.

“Toxic metals and chloroform can be especially difficult to treat in high concentrations.

“We would like to remind companies that it is a criminal offence to discharge trade effluent into the public sewer without consent or in breach of consent conditions.”

There are currently 3,500 discharge to waste consent agreements in place in the North West and United Utilities hopes this court action will serve as a pertinent reminder to those companies that hold them.

Motorists in Belfast are being asked to be more patient than usual after a drainage contractor started work earlier this week on the repair of a sewer collapse on Donegal Road.

Work to repair the sewer should take approximately five weeks to complete and will primarily take place at the junction between Donegal Road and Shaftesbury Square.

Northern Ireland Water’s project sponsor, Keith Haslett, stated:

“NI Water’s engineers identified an urgent need to replace the sewerage network in the area.

“The work has to take place immediately to alleviate potential localised ‘out of sewer’ flooding.

“We are acutely aware this is an extremely busy junction and have done everything in our power to maintain traffic flows around the area, this includes plans to work seven days a week to complete the work as quickly as possible.”

The work in the city centre will mean that lane restrictions and temporary traffic lights will be in place. It’s hoped that because the drainage contractor will be working on the sewer repairs throughout the weekend, the repairs will be finished before the Christmas period.

Residents on a street in Ripponden have complained to Yorkshire Water, after a series of floods caused by sewers overflowing at times of heavy rainfall left raw sewage in the road.

The residents of Mill Fold in the town have in the past seen human faeces and sanitary products in the street when manhole covers have been lifted by the rainfall. One resident, 45-year-old Bonnie Muscat-Baron said in the Evening Courier:

“When the rain is really heavy the manhole covers start to lift up and we can see water shooting out.

“It’s only when it’s stopped and the water has gone that you go out and there’s faeces all over the place, and toilet paper everywhere.”

Residents say that the sewer problems have been going on for around two years are due to new developments in the surrounding area putting extra pressure on the sewer network.

A spokesperson for Yorkshire Water stated:

“We’d like to apologise to local residents.

“We recognise that there have been a number of incidents where our sewer on Mill Fold has struggled to contain the huge volumes of waste water that enter it during times of heavy rainfall.

“We want to reassure local residents that we’re currently investigating the system we have in place and how we can make any necessary improvements in order to help resolve this problem.

“We thank residents for getting in contact with us when they spot any problems and would ask them to continue to do so in order that we can build up an accurate picture of any problems in the area.”

Anglian Water is currently undertaking a sewer strengthening project on the sewer system in Mill Road, Cambridge.

Residents have faced sewer problems on Mill Road throughout the summer, with a sewer collapse causing the road to be closed for around three months earlier in the year. The project will be completed this week and will mean the sewer should not see the problems it has witnessed in the past.

As part of the strengthening project, the sewer has been fitted with a resin impregnated liner. This repairs any small cracks in the length of the pipe, but more importantly in this case, adds the needed rigidity to stop any further collapse.

The road has remained open throughout the sewer lining process.

Anglian Water spokesperson, John Clare, stated:

“Prevention is better than cure and these works were all about prevention. We identified these sections of sewer as being at risk of collapse in the future and acted to make sure that does not happen.

“One huge advantage of using this method was that we did not have to dig up the road, which remained open throughout.”