Helping deploy fat-busting bugs to combat York sewer fat
I visited Castle Mills Waste Water Pumping Station in York this morning to see how Yorkshire Water are deploying fat-busting bugs as part of an innovative and environmentally-friendly treatment process to prevent pollution and combat build-ups of fat in York’s sewer network.
Cooking fat, oils and grease get into the sewer from household drains, usually via the kitchen sink and appliances such as dishwashers. Over time, these substances build up on the inside of the sewer pipe and harden, reducing the flow capacity of the pipe and causing blockages, which in worst case scenarios can lead to sewers flooding people’s homes and the environment.
Since February 2012, Yorkshire Water has deployed trillions of fat-busting bugs in York’s sewers to get rid of fat blockages. Yorkshire is the only county in England where this treatment process is being piloted and its use in York is the first time that Yorkshire Water has launched a sustained programme of dosing in any one location. Twenty-six known hot-spots are being targeted around the city, including Castle Mills which has had big fat build-ups in the past, plus surrounding areas where build-ups are causing repeated problems. The process works by using organically grown bacillus bacteria, which is commonly found in the human gut, to feast on the fat, oils and grease, with the bacteria being mixed with non-chlorinated water before being poured into the sewer.
In the last nine months, crews have attended over 1,400 jobs in York to remove blockages in local sewers. Last year, 32 tonnes of fat – the equivalent weight of four double decker buses – were removed from the sewer which runs along the river from Lendal Bridge to Skeldergate Bridge. On a regional level, Yorkshire Water removed almost 19,000 blockages and around 2,000 tonnes of fat, oil and grease from its 54,000 km sewer network in 2011, with approximately 38% of these being caused by people pouring fat, oil or grease down the sink or flushing baby wipes, sanitary items or nappies down the toilet, at a cost of more than £2 million.
Yorkshire Water urges its customers to dispose of fat in an easy and environmentally friendly way by letting it cool and harden, before scraping it into a bin, or mixing it with other ingredients such as crushed unsalted peanuts to create bird feed. Further information about what people can do with their fat and to reduce the risk of their pipes becoming blocked is available here.
It is just as important to carry away waste water efficiently as it is to supply clean water. Fat needs to be disposed of responsibly in sewers or at the sewage works, to ensure the quality of our drinking water. We need to keep our sewers clean and free from blockages and I commend Yorkshire Water for the innovative way in which they are tackling the problem. It is good to see new ideas in action, but we can all help by stopping fat getting in waste water in the first place.
Photo: Hugh Bayley MP deploys fat-busting bugs to combat York sewer fat, with Simon Young, Stakeholder Engagement Advisor at Yorkshire Water