Fat-busting bugs help clear city’s sewers

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THE most comprehensive use of fat-busting bugs yet is being employed to clear blackspots around York’s sewers network which dates back to the Victorian era.

The innovative treatment process began yesterday and will target 26 known hot-spots around the city and its suburbs over the next fortnight where the build-up of fat, oils and grease is causing repeated blockages.

Organically grown bacillus bacteria, which is commonly found in the human gut, is mixed with non-chlorinated water before being poured into the sewer to feast on fatty deposits.

The Yorkshire Post revealed in December that the bacteria was being used in trials to help clear sewers across the region during the festive period. However, Yorkshire Water confirmed the use of the fat-busting bugs in York is the first time the company has launched a sustained programme of dosing in any one location.

Yorkshire Water’s pollution manager, Patrick Killgallon, revealed almost 1,500 blockages were cleared in York’s sewers in the last eight months alone. He claimed the company is having to look towards increasingly innovative approaches as residents fail to take heed of warnings not to pour grease and fat down sinks.

He said: “The deployment of fat-busting bugs in our sewer network is an example of this, with these ‘good’ bacteria literally feasting on solidified fat in our sewer. And 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.”

Almost 19,000 blockages were removed from Yorkshire Water’s 33,500-mile sewer network in 2011 at a cost of more than £2m. More than a third of the blockages were caused by fat, oil or grease being poured down the sink or flushing baby wipes, sanitary items and nappies down the toilet. About 2,000 tonnes of fat, oil and grease were removed from the sewers last year.

email paul.jeeves@ypn.co.uk