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A ‘Rocky’ time for NI Water Staff in Antrim

26 October 2018 15:18

NI Water staff have seen many bad blockages but Fountain Hill in Antrim this week reached the ‘top of the pile’!   A large rock stuck in a sewer pipe took five staff members three days and three tankers to clear! 

Gavin McCready, sewerage manager for the area explained, “Our crews responded to an overflowing manhole located at Fountain Hill in Antrim. After a failed attempt to jet the blockage out, CCTV was brought in which revealed the blockage was a rock lodged in the sewer!

“We don’t know how this rock entered the sewer; it could have been there for many years and simply moved or it could have been thrown down a manhole. Either way, it certainly created an issue for our teams who spent three days working to release it. 

“The swift action from staff who commenced tankering of sewerage out of the pipe prevented a possible pollution to the Six Mile Water.

“To provide a sense of scale, a trunk sewer pipe, which takes wastewater from hundreds of homes, can be in the region of 300mm in diameter; so you can imagine the size of the rock that was stuck! A pipe coming from the home is much smaller, measuring only 100mm in diameter and can easily block when inappropriate items such as wipes, cotton buds and sanitary ware are flushed.  

“These items are designed to absorb water and as such they do not break down the way toilet paper does. If enough customers are flushing them at one time, the chances of a blockage is quite high. In fact, we deal with hundreds of blockages each year caused by these very items and just last month, we found numerous black bags filled with rubbish dumped down a manhole in North Belfast.

“Blockages and out of sewer flooding are extremely unpleasant and affects the whole community. We have all seen the disgusting effects of an overflowing manhole in the street and no one wants to see or smell it (not even us!) but we all have the power to stop it. Taking simple measures and only flushing the 3P’s – Paper, Poo and Pee, will help alleviate the avoidable problem of blocked sewers.

“In the last ten years, NI Water has spent over £1.5 billion investing in water and wastewater infrastructure but no amount of investment will completely stop blocked pipes if people continue  to dump rubbish, flush wipes (including flushable), sanitary items and cotton buds down the toilet.”

“Customer awareness and behaviour change is the only real way to address sewer misuse; it’s simple really, don’t flush anything other than paper, poo and pee and keep wastewater ‘Flo-ing’ through your home and our network.

“Visit to view the video and meet ‘Flo’ on her journey into the sewers.”


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