Over 200 tonnes of unflushables cleared from sewers in Southend-on-Sea

15 April 2021


Anglian Water has completed its clean-up of the sewers in Southend-on-Sea which began in December last year discovering some pipes were 85% full of unflushables.


The team cleared more than 80 kilometres of sewer pipes in the area and collected more than 200 tonnes of unflushables and waste from the pipes – roughly the equivalent of two blue whales. Using specialist equipment, including three tankers and three CCTV camera vans, engineers have assessed the condition of the pipes once they were cleared.


On inspection, only 10 small repairs were required, and no major issues were found during the four-month project. The work which took place across the town centre, South Church Park and both Western and Eastern Esplanade area, was completed to help prevent flooding in the area, the cause of which is often due to a build-up of unflushables in the pipes. Fat, oils and grease and other unflushables were detected across the network and were at the highest volume within the town centre and at the pumping station with 15 tonnes of fat being cleared from the pumps alone.


Ben Hatfield-Wright, Water Recycling Network Efficiency Manager for Anglian Water, said: “We have been astounded by the amount of unflushables found in Southend-on-Sea. In addition to the wet wipes and sanitary products which we find are the usual culprits for blockages we also found concrete, tools, toys and kitchen utensils.”


The water company will be installing 24 sensors across the 80km network to monitor flow, levels and temperature, to ensure the pipes keep flowing. It will enable engineers to identify any emerging issues before they cause problems. Any areas showing signs of deterioration will be investigated to find the source of the issue and all customer connections to the mains in the area will be checked.


Anglian Water is asking residents to help keep the sewers clear and free of blockages by only flushing the 3Ps (poo, paper and pee) down the toilet. Anything else (including wipes, cotton buds and sanitary products) should go in the bin. Only used water should go down the sink (save fats, oils and grease to reuse in cooking and baking and, before washing up or loading the dishwasher, make sure plates and pots are scraped into a food caddy or bin). As much as 80% of the 40,000 blockages cleared every year by the company could be avoided by taking these simple actions.


Click here for photos showing a fifth of the material removed from the sewers.