United Utilities

United Utilities

Builders fill sewer with concrete


Source: United Utilities

A WATER company is suing a house builder for £500,000 after they stopped people flushing their loos by pouring 30 tonnes of concrete down a sewer.

The blunder caused chaos in Salford, Lancashire when the concrete set hard along about 43 metres of the public Victorian sewer.

People could not flush their toilets for three days on Aspull Walk, Salford as engineers installed an emergency street sewer pumping system.

Matthew Walker from United Utilities said, “It’s the first time in my career I’ve asked a customer to perform the California mantra of “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down” to reduce sewerage from their homes until we installed overpumping pipes on the main street.”

Sewer owners United Utilities spent 12 weeks working round the clock to clear the blockage. It cost them £500k.
The company had to:

  • Fly in a crack team of specialist miners to dig through the concrete.
  • Use tankers to make the sewer safe by draining off wastewater, and prevent flooding to nearby properties.
  • Get one lane of a busy road closed.
  • Re-shape a pedestrian area to keep people safe.

The story is unravelled during the hit BBC Two series The Watermen on Tuesday night at 9pm.

Matthew added “Probably one of the most difficult and technical engineering works we have had to carry out in a City Centre. It caused huge disruption to the local community, factors beyond our control.

'While carrying out the work, we tunnelled 43 meters underground, because a large high-pressure gas main was above supplying all of Salford, we used traditional mining techniques, digging with shovels and shoring up the shaft with planks of wood.”

The sewer was next to a building site being developed by Gleeson Homes.

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