Corporate Responsibility

Preventing sewer flooding.

Last reviewed:

What we're doing.

Investing in our network - we delivered sewer flooding alleviation schemes to an equivalent of 40 properties during 2017/18. We‘ve increased investment in controls on our network, including sewer depth monitors, to provide real time warning when sewage levels rise, so we can locate and clear any blockages before they cause sewer flooding.

Proactive maintenance response - we’re taking a more proactive approach to maintenance, and we’ve reduced the occurrence of repeat incidents by increasing focus on the most affected areas. We regularly monitor, clean and repair sewers in high risk areas, to reduce the risk of blockages and collapses.

Efficient management of our network - we regularly monitor, clean and repair sewers in high risk areas to help make blockages and collapses less likely. Our innovative new acoustic technology has helped us target and remove potential obstructions in sewers before sewer flooding occurs. We’re also working on 31 drainage strategies for areas which have previously experienced problems with sewer flooding.

How we’re responding - with increased monitoring and data insight from our ‘storm chasing’ efforts, we can mobilise teams to check manholes in affected areas before problems occur. We can move the sewage away from the affected pipe by ‘over pumping’ wastewater into another section of the network. Better insight also gives us more time to arrange for tankers and flooding barriers to travel to the area, to remove or divert large volumes of sewage before it floods local properties. To avoid sewage backing up through neighbouring pipes, we can also install ‘stoppers’ between customer pipes and affected sewers.

Supporting surface water management - we support innovative surface water management (SWM) schemes which reduce or slow down the volume of rainwater flowing into the sewer system across our whole region. Read more about SWM schemes on our sustainable drainage management page.

Working in partnership - we work with council environmental health departments to target particular hotspots. We’re also members of the WaterUK Sewerage Network Abuse Prevention (SNAP) group, which represents the national water and sewerage sector, and aims to prevent incorrect usage of public sewers.

Campaigns - alongside our extensive customer engagement programme, after the now-notorious Whitechapel fatberg was discovered in our sewers, we’ve continued to invest in our ‘Bin it, don’t block it’ marketing campaign. Especially in hot spot areas, we’re doing this to highlight the dangers of flushing anything other than the three P’s – pee, poo and (toilet) paper – down the drains. We’ve invested £1.3 million in our campaign during 2017/18, communicating with people in 300,000 residential properties. Sewer blockages create problems for the environment, our customers and the smooth running of our network. So customer engagement and education is a key part of our approach to keeping our wastewater operations healthy.