Thursday, August 25, 2011

Do people understand that treated wastewater is returned to the environment?

In the United Kingdom

North East householders urged to look after sewers

by Michael Brown, The Journal
Aug 23 2011

HoUSEHOLDERS are being encouraged to play their part in helping to look after the region's sewers. The pipe network takes away the waste of 2.6 million people in the North East so it can be treated, before the cleaned water is safely returned to the environment.

Currently, water company Northumbrian Water manages 16,000km of sewers. But, from October 1 this year, around another 13,500km of drains, which were previously the responsibility of residents, will also fall under their control.

Ahead of the changes, which every customer will be notified about by letter, the firm is urging people to think twice about what they flush or tip down the sink.

A spokesman for Northumbrian Water, Alistair Baker, said sewers were a vital artery for a clean, healthy life and it’s in everyone’s interests to look after them.

“Blockages in sewers cause homes to flood and damage the environment, and North East bathroom habits are rubbish – literally,” he said.

“They are among the worst in the country for using the toilet as a rubbish bin, flushing items, especially sanitary-related products, which can end up on the region’s beaches.

“Disposable products such as tampons, sanitary towels, nappies, wet wipes, toilet roll tubes, cotton buds and condoms should be put in a bin and not flushed down the toilet.”

The water company spends hundreds of thousands of pounds a year screening debris out of the sewer network, and sends 9,000 tonnes of sewage-related rubbish to landfill every year from its 437 sewage treatment works.

So, as customers ultimately pay the costs, the company say it’s in everyone’s interest “to bag it and bin it”.

But it is not just bathroom waste that causes a problem – fats and grease also clog the water network’s vital arteries.

Every day, people and businesses pour hundreds of litres of cooking oil and roasting juices down the sink.

The fat cools, hardens and builds up on the walls of the sewer pipe, eventually blocking it.

However, on October 1 not all pipes will transfer. Householders, landlords and businesses will still remain responsible for private drains serving their property within its boundary, as well as gutters and down pipes.

The pipes that will transfer from private to water company ownership are those outside the boundary or those within the boundary which are shared by other properties and which connect into the existing public sewer, often located underneath the road outside.

The transfer will be automatic and customers do not need to take any action.

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