The inspection took place to highlight that Harrogate is one of Yorkshire’s sewer blockage hotspots with almost 200 blockages being cleared from its sewers over the last two years.
The main cause of the blockages is ‘flushable’ wet wipes, which are being increasingly used as luxury toilet roll, However, wet wipes don’t disintegrate like toilet roll and once flushed and can build up within the sewer network causing blockages. These blockages can flood people’s homes and gardens, and even result in local becks and rivers being polluted.
To tackle this problem, Yorkshire Water is urging customers in the town to only put ‘the 3Ps’ down the loo – poo, pee and paper and has been knocking on doors to speak to residents, texting advice, and running competitions on Facebook to raise awareness of the issue.
Education sessions are also planned with local Primary Schools to talk to local children about the problems unflushable items can cause to the town’s sewer network.
Last Friday, Andrew Jones MP and Cllr Cooper joined Network Engineers from the water firm whose job it is to hunt for and repair any blockages on the sewer network. The visit involved putting a CCTV camera down the sewer to see if there were any blockages and check for any defects and learn more about the specialist equipment used to protect the sewers.
Yorkshire Water has recently announced they’re spending £1.1 million on a new specialist team to help keep the region’s sewers clear. The new 22-strong team will have more than a dozen specialist vehicles at its disposal, to unblock sewers by jetting them with high pressure water sprays or using suction pumps.
Lee Pitcher, Head of Waste Water Services at Yorkshire Water, said: The sewers of Harrogate have been getting blocked up with allsorts; flushable wet wipes, thick toilet paper, fat, sanitary items, bricks and even a plank of wood! We proactively check on problem areas such as the street we visited with Andrew Jones MP and Cllr Richard Cooper where we’d previously found a plank of wood down a manhole. However we can’t keep an eye on everything that goes in our sewers and that’s why we’re asking residents to help us keep them running clear and blockage free to reduce pollution and flooding incidents.
Andrew Jones MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough said: It was very interesting learning more about what Oliver and Andy do on a daily basis to protect homes from flooding and watercourses from being polluted in Harrogate. After seeing how small sewers actually are its inevitable that wet wipes and other unflushable items could cause a serious problem very quickly if they build up. We can all play our part to help protect our homes, gardens and the local environment by not flushing wet wipes, sanitary items and rubbish down the loo.
It was great to see the advanced technology that Yorkshire Water is using to find these blockages and help minimise disruption when fixing these sorts of issues.