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The Trouble with Rubble

23 July 2020 12:09

NI Water staff are used to tackling fatbergs and other inappropriate items in the sewers however, their recent finds have been a lot more solid; specifically, concrete and stones!

Stones and rubble were removed from a sewer in Aghalee weighing approximately 4 tonnes and in West Belfast, stones were pulled from a sewer on the Stewartstown Road. 

These extensive piles of rubble, which were more than likely irresponsibly dumped down a manhole during housing development construction works, took hours to remove and required traffic management to be put in place. 

Denis McCavigan, Wastewater Manager, NI Water comments, “Staff working on the blockage could not believe the sheer amount of stones, they took days to remove, not to mention the cost! 

“Rogue discharges like this are commonly found around building sites where the remains of concrete are washed down into the drainage system.   This is typical of material getting into our sewers from new building works and developments. Combined with bricks, stones and inappropriate rags, they can become a real pain to remove and a very expensive piece of maintenance work. 

“This act shows not only lack of respect for our network but also for the people living in the area. NI Water would remind all customers that opening a manhole to discharge any material or washing substances into the drainage system is prohibited. By doing this, you are obstructing a working sewer which is only designed to take wastewater away from homes and businesses. 

“By obstructing the sewer in this way, it reduces the pipe capacity and the volume of wastewater it is able to take; this can lead to increased blockages and out of sewer flooding in the street or into a river. Out of sewer flooding is extremely unpleasant and affects the whole community and damages the environment. 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 the reality is, it happens regularly at a cost of millions to NI Water each year.”

This find follows a concrete-berg measuring 30ft long, enough to build a small garden wall, in Omagh last year.  

Denis continues “We all have the power to stop this; 

1. Only flush the 3P’s, pee, poo and paper – everything else goes in the bin
2. Do not pour fat, oil and grease down the sink and
3. Do not place anything down a manhole or wash substances into the drainage system. 

“In the last ten years, NI Water has spent over £1 billion investing in water and wastewater infrastructure but no amount of investment will completely stop blocked pipes if people continue to misuse the sewerage system.”

Visit https://www.niwater.com/bag-it-and-bin-it/ for further advice on what can’t be flushed. 

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