Porcupines take the wipes out of sewer blockages for Northumbrian Water
Northumbrian Water has unveiled its latest tool - the Porcupine - to wipe out the flushing of wipes, one of the biggest culprits of blockages in the sewers.
- Clearing blockages caused by wipes in the North-east costs almost £250,000 a year
- In the South Shields area highlighted, blockages occur weekly and cost more than £16,000 a year to clear
- Almost 14% of all blockages caused by wipes in the North-east happen in that postcode area of South Shields
- North-east treatment works remove 3,000 tonnes of waste a year wrongly flushed into the sewers, much of it wipes, which costs £400,000 to bury at landfill sites
Developed by Northumbrian Water’s Technical Support team the Porcupines are simple devices that are lowered from manholes into sewers for short periods to trap what has been wrongly flushed, before being examined and removed to prevent a blockage build up.
They allow the source of the wipes to be traced back to individual sewers to raise customer awareness.
The technology has been demonstrated in the NE34 7 postcode area of South Shields, which is a known problem area for blockages caused by wipes.
Northumbrian Water’s wastewater director, Richard Warneford, said: "We really need our customers to help us to wipe out the flushing of wipes. People may believe they are flushable but they do not break up and they clog the sewers and cause untold damage.
"The statistics are shocking and, indeed may be even worse as wipes could well be responsible for many more of the blockages we clear as we don’t always find out what’s caused them."
Warneford added: "Blockages can have devastating consequences with people’s homes being flooded and the environment being polluted. It’s also an expensive business to deal with which results in unnecessary costs for the water company and our customers." Wipes are responsible for more than 3,000 blockages a year in the North East. That is almost a quarter of all blockages in the entire regional network.
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