You may have read recently about how water company Yorkshire Water have been making use of an unusual method to take on the problems they have been having with sewer blockages in the region. We will now consider how this works in practice.

The bacillus bacteria, which can be found in the gut of humans, is organically grown to feed on the fat, greases and oils accumulating in the sewerage system. Before it is poured into the sewer, it is first mixed with non-chlorinated water.

These fat-busting bugs, as they have come to be known, were originally used in a trial by the water company but after a number of successes during the festive period, they have been deployed in a wider programme within the city of York.

A new approach to the growing issue of sewer blockages was required, with this solution now seeming to be working on an on-going basis.

Yorkshire Water’s stakeholder engagement manager, Simon Young, said:

“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. And because these bacteria constantly multiply in the right environment, we can leave them to get on with their job in our sewers, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, without the need for regular dosing.”

Yorkshire Water has revealed that in the past six months alone, their teams have had to take on over 100 sewer blockage jobs in the seaside resort of Bridlington.

This just goes to show the issue at a local level, with nearly 19,000 blockages having to be attended in the region last year. With 54,000 kilometres of sewer pipes to look after, this just goes to show that the water company certainly has its work cut out.

Their statistics show that around 38 per cent of these blockages were due to grease, oil and fat being poured sown the sink or nappies, sanitary items and baby wipes being flushed down the toilet.

As well as proving to be costly to remove the build up of these products from the sewers it can also cause inconvenience to householders too. Home flooding is just one result of this being allowed to happen.

However, in order to combat this growing problem, the water company has started rolling out an innovative new sewer clearing method of using fat-busting bugs in addition to common practices such as drain jetting.

Patrick Killgallon, pollution manager at Yorkshire Water, said:

“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. And because these bacteria constantly multiply in the right environment, we can leave them to get on with their job in our sewers, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, without the need for regular dosing.

“Consequently, we’re confident their introduction will significantly help to reduce fat, oils and grease blockages in the region, ensuring waste water from local homes and businesses can flow freely to our sewage works where we can recycle it properly before returning it to the environment.”

Water company Yorkshire Water have taken the unusual step to deploy fat-busting bugs in the sewers of Bridlington to remove blockages from the system.

This treatment process is completely environmentally-friendly and involves trillions of the bacteria being mixed with non-chlorinated water before being allowed to feed on the grease, oils and fat in the sewer.

Well-known problem areas at Lancaster Road and South Marine Drive were the location for this innovative solution.

These blockages are caused by the fat reaching the sewer from private drains, normally through the kitchen sink as well as from appliances like the dishwasher. The flow capacity of pipes is severely reduced by this practice and often results in home flooding and pollution of the environment.

Pollution manager at the water company, Patrick Killgallon, said:

“Having your home filled with waste from your toilet is a very unpleasant experience which no one should ever have to suffer, which is why we work hard to encourage people to think twice before they pour left over fat down the plug hole or flush the odd make-up wipe down the toilet.

“This said, we’ve already carried out almost 700 jobs to remove blockages in our Hull sewers so far this year, which shows the sheer scale of the issue we all face.”

Major re-surfacing works and a drainage system upgrade are due to start in Bedford, the local borough council has revealed this week.

Traffic around Dame Alice Street will be affected by road closures for the seven-week project.

Bedford Borough Council has revealed that the signalling equipment was in desperate need of replacement, while drainage improvements were also necessary to ensure road safety in the area.

New cycleways will also be put in place as well as the resurfacing works and other improvements.

Businesses and local residents have been informed of the imminent disruptions while the work is being carried out. It has been organised so that it will all be completed in time for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations at the start of June.

Councillor Charles Royden, said:

“These are vital works which will significantly improve this important road to ensure it can continue to be used for many years to come.

“Surveys have also shown the drainage beneath Dame Alice Street is in serious need of repair and if left to deteriorate further it will affect the structure of the road.

“This work will also improve surface drainage from the road itself and prevent localised flooding. We are already working with Anglian Water to correct these issues as promptly as possible.”

The next stop for Yorkshire Water’s ‘Doing The Dirty’ tour was the town of Rotherham in South Yorkshire. On Saturday local residents were given the chance to obtain free sink strainers from the water company as part of their campaign to highlight sewer issues.

Yorkshire Water organised the event to show the community that sewerage systems can be damaged by the simple act of pouring fat down the sink in the kitchen.

As well as the goodies on offer, the water company provided interested residents with free advice on how best to dispose of cooking fats and oils, instead of getting rid of it in this popular way.

People flocked to the Old Town Hall to see what the organisation had to say, with many surprised to hear how engineers from the company had to clear 18,000 blockages last year throughout the region. Even in Rotherham there were 143 blockages related to fat deposits, with 81 of them being avoidable.

Pollution manager at the water company, Patrick Killgallon, said:

“Having your home filled with waste from your toilet and indeed your sink is a very unpleasant experience, which is why we are encouraging people to think twice before they pour left over fat down the plug hole or flush the odd make-up wipe down the toilet.

“We hope that by taking our road show on tour around the region we can really show people what the consequences look like.”

The emergency repairs are underway into the unblocking of a sewer in Urmston, with the engineers from water company United Utilities making use of an uncommon tunnelling technique to dig their way in.

As the drainage team begin the work to replace a large pipe beneath Flixton Road which had been filled in with concrete, engineers have positioned wooden supports enabling them to dig beneath a labyrinth of important cables and pipes placed above the sewer pipe.

United Utilities wastewater manager, Ian Fullalove, said:

“This is an extremely delicate operation. We cannot risk damaging any of the essential water, gas, electricity and phone lines which are blocking our access to the sewer, so we are having to go underneath them.

“We have tried to remove the concrete from inside the sewer using a cutting device, but it’s such a tough material – filling more than 25m of the pipe – that progress was too slow. What we are doing now is like a cross between brain surgery and The Great Escape.”

The sewer, which is 7 metres in depth, will need to be taken out by each section and replaced.

It is expected that the repair work will continue well into April, with regular updates provided to residents and local businesses along the way.

Sheffield residents have been invited by regional water company Yorkshire Water to find out more about the benefits of the Blackburn Meadows sewage treatment works scheme.

The customer drop-in event is being held this Tuesday to let the local people know more about the £78 million plans to update the current system.

If you want to see what the water company have to say on the subject, and to air your own views, you can turn up at Tinsley Green Community Centre on Norborough Road.

As well as being informed about the work to reduce the flooding risk in Sheffield, you can learn more about how the environment will be affected too, with the scheme aiming to improve the quality of river water in addition to giving a boost to biodiversity.

The work is set to go ahead at the end of this month and will last until September 2014 as most of the treatment facilities at the plant will have to be replaced.

Yorkshire Water Project Manager, Kevin Smith, said:

“This iconic works is nestled right in the heart of Sheffield’s industrial waterfront, and like many works in the area, it has to move with the times. We are significantly changing the face of Blackburn Meadows to create a much cleaner, healthier environment for residents and riverlife alike.”

It has been reported recently that a 100-year-old sewerage system in the cathedral city of Salisbury in Wiltshire has now been repaired, thanks to a £200,000 renovation project.

Almost 500 metres of pipework was either replaced or relined due to damage in certain areas. A drain inspection managed to highlight the problem with the CCTV survey showing that it was a serious enough issue that needed to be addressed.

In fact, Wessex Water’s Alex Aulds revealed that if no action had been taken to rectify the situation, the sewers were at risk of collapsing or bursting in the near future.

While the drain engineers were at work, a number of traffic diversions and road closures had to be put in place as temporary measures.

Mr Aulds added that now the problem had been addressed, they did not foresee any further issues when he said:

“The sewers now have an expected longevity of 100 years and the work will ensure that any future risk of collapse or damage is significantly reduced.”

Trenchless technology was used to ensure the work could be completed within the specific timeframe, with these techniques meaning the road did not have to be dug up so the workers could gain access to the sewer.

The recent sewer upgrade work which has just begun in Hessle, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, is just part of a larger investment to be spread across the region.

While £770,000 has been put aside for the town, the water company is to devote £120 million to making sure that treatment facilities and the sewer network are up to standard.

Those homeowners that may have suffered from sewer flooding in the past will be the main beneficiaries of these works as the investment will reduce the risk for hundreds of homes throughout Yorkshire.

When storm conditions are prevalent, there is a greater risk that the sewer system will not be able to cope and so flooding was often the unfortunate result of this.

Yorkshire Water has made sure that locals are aware of what is being planned for their area and how they can stand to benefit from these works.

Yorkshire Water project manager, Dominic Cunney, said:

“We believe, like our customers, that sewer flooding is unacceptable. And whilst we can’t tackle the problem by ourselves, this latest investment underlines our continuing commitment to playing our part in helping to reduce the risk of sewer flooding to our customers and operating as a responsible company dedicated to providing customers with the best possible service.”

Shop owners in the Lincolnshire town of Holbeach received some great news this week that many had been waiting for nearly 20 years – drainage work has now been started in Fleet Street.

People had complained that spray from flooding that collects during periods of heavy rain had ruined buildings and caused many more issues for residents and business owners.

Lincolnshire County Council are now looking to solve the problem once and for all after being granted funding from the Flood Defence Grant In Aid Scheme, run by the Environment Agency, which has agreed to contribute nearly all of the £75,000 in costs for this work to proceed.

After a particularly bad flash storm flooding incident in 2007 where a river of water flowed by the Fleet Street shops, many called for action to be taken.

Engineers will be installing a new drainage pipe beneath the road as part of the scheme, while putting in manholes to discharge any excess water, taking it to the existing Damgate drainage system.

Coun Eddy Poll said:

“We’re delighted to have received this additional funding from the Environment Agency. These areas all have a history of flooding and we only have to think back to 2007 to remember the devastating impact that it can have on people’s lives.”