Fat-busting bugs get to work in the sewers

Down it goes: bacteria is poured down a manhole cover to clear fat blockages in the sewers. In the background, Fan Winter of Yorkshire Water holds two bottles of fat, the one on the right has been partly broken down by the bugs. Picture: Simon Dewhirst Photography
Down it goes: bacteria is poured down a manhole cover to clear fat blockages in the sewers. In the background, Fan Winter of Yorkshire Water holds two bottles of fat, the one on the right has been partly broken down by the bugs. Picture: Simon Dewhirst Photography

FAT-BUSTING bugs are being sent down sewers in Sowerby Bridge and Ripponden to prevent blockages.

The environmentally-friendly treatment is being carried out at eight known hotspots where build-ups of fats and oils are causing repeated problems.

Organically-grown bacillus bacteria, which is commonly found in the human gut, will be mixed with water and poured down drains, where they will feast on the fat.

Patrick Killgallon, pollution manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “Because these bacteria constantly multiply in the right environment, we can leave them to get on with their job in our sewers, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, without the need for regular dosing.”

The procedure was trialled over the festive period. It will now be carried out at Mill Bank Road in Mill Bank, Priest Lane in Ripponden and Old Cawsey, Wharf Street, Town Hall Street, Water Street, West Street, and Rose Grove Lane in Sowerby Bridge.

Cooking fat, oils and grease get into the sewer from household drains, usually via the kitchen sink.

Over time, they build up on the inside of the sewer pipe and harden, causing blockages. This can lead to sewage flooding into people’s homes and the environment.

In the last six months, Yorkshire Water crews have cleared more than 40 blockages in Sowerby Bridge and Ripponden.

The company removed almost 19,000 blockages from its 54,000km sewer network across Yorkshire last year, at a cost of over £2 million.

The total amount of fat, oil and grease weighed around 2,000 tonnes - equivalent to 250 double-decker buses or 400 elephants.

Patrick Killgallon, pollution manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “Having your home filled with waste from your toilet is a very unpleasant experience which no one should ever have to suffer, which is why we work hard to encourage people to think twice before they pour leftover fat down the plug hole or flush the odd make-up wipe down the toilet.”

For advice, visit www.yorkshirewater.com/dirty.