Local MP goes on the hunt for sewer blockages

Andrew Jones MP and Leader of Harrogate Council Richard Cooper joined our engineers on a routine blockage inspection of Harrogate’s sewers last Friday.

Harrogate is a sewer blockage hotspot with almost 200 blockages being cleared from its sewers over the last two years. The main culprit of the blockages is ‘flushable’ wet wipes as they don’t disintegrate once flushed and can build up once they enter the sewer network to cause a blockage. These blockages can flood people’s homes and gardens, and even result in local becks and rivers being polluted.

We've been doing all we can to raise awareness of only putting the 3Ps down the loo- that’s poo, pee and paper- including knocking on doors to speak to residents, texting advice on what can and can’t be flushed, and running competitions on Facebook to raise awareness of the issue. We will also be running education sessions with local Primary Schools to talk to local children about the problems unflushable items can cause. 

Last Friday, Andrew Jones MP and Cllr Cooper joined Network Engineers Oliver Escreet and Andy Dignam who hunt for blockages in Yorkshire’s sewer network and help keep it maintained. The visit involved putting a CCTV camera down the sewer to see if there were any blockages and check for any defects. Oliver and Andy also talked through their high tech kit and what they do to help keep sewers flowing in Harrogate. 

We recently announced that we'll be 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 special vehicles at its disposal, to unblock sewers by jetting them with high pressure water sprays or using suction pumps. This specialist unit of highly-trained professionals will bolster our ability to protect households, businesses and watercourses. 

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.”