Anglian Water begin investigation work in Southend-on-Sea to help prevent future flooding

18 December 2020


Anglian Water are conducting investigative work in Southend-on-Sea to help understand what is causing the repeated blockages in the area. This discreet investigative work will involve a specialist team using CCTV cameras to assess the sewer pipes across the area. 

Once this initial work has been concluded, the team will return to the area to clean over 80 kilometres of sewer pipes to clear them of unflushables, including wet wipes, sanitary items and cotton buds, amongst other items. Once combined with fats, oils and grease that have been flushed down customers’ sinks this can cause huge problems across the network. 

The work will take part across the Western and Eastern Esplanade area, including the town centre, to enable the sewers to work at their highest possible standard and to prevent flooding in the area. 


During the cleaning stage, which will start in the new year, a jetter truck will be used to suck out any waste. The waste will then be taken away and analysed – a recent project in Canvey Island which was only 600 metres of sewer extracted over 5 tonnes of unflushables. 

Once the sewer has been cleaned the team will be able to carry out additional CCTV surveys of the pipework and use sensors to make sure the network is running as it should, which will also enable the teams to make any repairs, if needed, while they are in the area.  

Ben Hatfield-Wright, Water Recycling Network Efficiency Manager for Anglian Water said: “Eighty per cent of flooding and pollution incidents are caused by blocked sewers. The main causes of the blockages are waste such as fat, wipes and sanitary products which have been wrongly tipped down the sink or flushed down toilets instead of being put in the bin. We’re working with local communities as part of the trial to raise awareness of the potential impacts of fats, oils and grease and food waste going down the sink and flushing the wrong things down the toilet”. 

Ben added, “You can help keep the sewers clear and free of blockages by only flushing the 3Ps (poo, paper and pee) down the toilet put anything else (including wipes and sanitary products) in the bin. Put only used water down the sink (save fats, oils and grease to reuse in cooking and baking or, before washing pots wipe off with a paper towel and bin). The majority of the 40,000 blockages we clear every year could be avoided by taking these simple actions.” 

Cllr Carole Mulroney, Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning, said: “I am pleased that Anglian Water will be carrying out this important project along a main visitor area of the town centre and seafront. Responsibly disposing of fats, oils and wet wipes makes a real difference to the water flow in the sewers, which in turn helps prevent surface flooding during heavy rainfall. We await to see the extent of the waste in this section of sewers and will be working closely with Anglian Water to educate local residents and businesses on how to appropriately dispose of various items of waste. 

“Vegetable based cooking oils can be responsibly disposed of by taking the sealed container to either of the borough’s Household Waste Recycling Centres for recycling or, if this is not possible, by digging a small hole in the garden and pouring into the soil, where bacteria will naturally biodegrade the cooking oils." 

Water supplies and washing facilities will not be affected during any of the work and Anglian Water will keep residents updated on the findings and how they can help prevent blockages in the future to protect local homes and the environment from pollution. Anglian Water expect to start the flushing of the pipes from the 4th January for approximately six weeks and will keep residents updated on any traffic management during this time.