Giant mass of congealed wipes plucked from sewer network

The ability to keep sewers flowing and free from blockages is an ever increasing challenge for engineers at United Utilities.  

The constant battle which involves teams of people working around the clock to deal with increased levels of fibre entering the sewer network, as products such as wet wipes are flushed down the toilet, is required to minimise the chance of flooding.

Engineers recently stopped a monster structure of congealed wipes, entering its wastewater treatment works in Fazakerley.

The enormous mass of wipes, had the potential to severely damage the treatment works if it had entered the site, causing blockages and damage to equipment.

Bob Turner from United Utilities said “It took a team several hours to remove the gigantic rag roll and it was really fortunate we managed to do this before it entered into our treatment works.

“Across all our wastewater treatment works, approximately half the breakdowns on sites are caused by unflushable items.  At Fazakerley wastewater treatment works alone, we remove approximately 170 tonnes of wet wipe litter a year.”

The message from the company is clear, bin the wipes rather than flush them.

“As much as we live in a ‘disposable age’, it’s vital that we all think before we flush and pour items away, as many items currently entering the sewer system don’t just disappear and dissolve,” added Bob.

The problem does not only impact United Utilities operational sites.   All to-often blocked sewers heap misery when homes and gardens flood.

Each year the company tackle on average 28,000 blockages on the sewers which serve the North West, costing around £10 million.