The UK’s sewerage and water companies have been called on to take action to better protect homes and businesses around the country from sewer flooding, after a new report showed that nearly a third more properties were flooded in this way in 2016-2017.
The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater)’s Clear way forward: Building a resilient sewerage and drainage system (2016/2017) publication revealed that nearly 5,700 properties suffered sewer flooding last year – and more can be done to protect customers from the consequences of this by gaining a deeper understanding of which properties are likely to flood.
Companies have been taking steps in this regard which have been welcomed by CCWater, with figures showing that the number of external areas flooded with sewage dropped by 11 per cent in 2016/2017. The number is also down by over a third compared to five years ago. But the watchdog has also pledged to keep putting pressure on industry to follow through on its commitment to reduce flooded properties by 33 per cent between 2015 and 2020.
Head of policy and research at the organisation Mike Keil said: “Sewer flooding is a horrendous ordeal for customers to go through, so we are disappointed to see an increase in the number of properties that have been flooded.
“Companies usually respond very well to flooding incidents but customers expect more than that. They want peace of mind that their company has done everything it possibly can to protect their home or business in the first place.”
CCWater is now keen for companies to use better modelling so they can understand which properties are most likely to suffer in this regard, while working alongside other agencies to implement more effective long-term solutions to flooding.
Key findings in the report show that the country’s sewer network is under pressure from blockages and flooding, and both climate change and population growth will only exacerbate the situation in the future. Communication with customers is key to managing the challenge of sewer blockages, while keeping rainwater out of the existing sewer network is also a priority.
Earlier this month, a city centre road in Cambridge was closed for up to two weeks after a sewer collapsed and emergency repairs were required. This involved digging down into the sewer itself (buried metres underground) so that the damaged section could be fixed. Before refilling the hole, engineers had to make their way around gas mains, water pipes and electricity cables.
And back in October, landlord of the Masala Kraft Indian restaurant Amit Patel told the York Press of the devastating impact another sewer collapse had on his business, saying that stock and freezers had to be taken out and destroyed. Specialist excavating equipment had to be used for the repairs in this case because the pipe was down so deep.
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