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Thames Water uses blow-up bags to reduce sewer flooding

Thames Water has begun using new blow-up bags - which temporarily block the flow of wastewater in sewers so they can be safely inspected for fatbergs or cracks - to help reduce flooding.

The inflatable devices are being used alongside high-tech equipment and can seal off sections of pipe up to 90m long, so extendable camera cables can be used to search for any blockages, holes, cracks or other defects. Thames Water is the only water company to use the devices, made by Scottish company Sarco Stopper, in its sewers.

With no sewage passing through the pipe, engineers can also determine if any liquid picked up by the cameras has leaked into the sewer from an outside watercourse such as a river or stream.

Any issues can then be fixed before they cause problems for the environment or customers, such as flooding if the network becomes overloaded during heavy rainfall.

Tankers are on hand to pump out any excess waste should the flow upstream get too high, ensuring customers’ homes and gardens aren’t at risk.

Thames Water network manager Jonathon Maw said: “This equipment is ground-breaking for us as without it the sewers would be full of wastewater, making it much harder to detect any points where water could be leaking in from outside or blockages.

“If we can quickly and easily spot these problems, we can make sure we get them repaired before they cause problems. While the weather is drier and hotter, we’re using the devices to inspect as much of the sewer network as possible and fix any issues ahead of the wetter winter months.”

In the past year, Thames Water engineers cleaned more than 900km of sewers – a 50% increase on the previous year’s total and three times higher than in 2017/18.

Topic: Leaks & bursts , Pipes & Pipelines , Sewer Networks
Tags: flooding , wastewater , Thames Water , sewage

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