Now multiple discoveries across the country suggest fatbergs could become a common problem for UK water companies…
London water utility Thames Water made the headlines in late 2017 with the discovery of a monstrous, 250 metre long fatberg.
With a chunk now double cased (thankfully) and taking centre stage in the Museum of London, many thought that would be end of the problem.
Now multiple discoveries across the country suggest that fatbergs could become a more regular problem for UK water companies despite common warnings to customers not to flush fats, oils and grease (FOG) down drains.
What is a fatberg?
A fatberg is defined as “a large mass of fat and solid waste that collects in a sewer system”, the word fatberg was even announced as one of 533 new words to be added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Fatbergs are huge masses of solid waste that clog up sewage systems. They are made up of congealed fat, grease and oil, as well as wet wipes, sanitary towels and nappies that have been flushed down the toilet. Water utilities can spend millions every year clearing blockages as a result of homeowners and businesses pouring fats, oils and greases (FOG) unnecessarily down drains.
The Sidmouth monster
“It shows how this key environmental issue is not just facing the UK’s cities, but right here in our coastal towns. It is the largest discovered in our service history and will take our sewer team around eight weeks to dissect this monster in exceptionally challenging work conditions.”
Director of wastewater and South West Water
After the festive period utility South West Water discovered a 64-metre fatberg in a sewer under the seaside resort of Sidmouth in Devon.
Longer than six double decker buses, the fatberg formed like a snowball – as wet-wipes get flushed down loos, fats oil and grease congeal together, gradually forming a hard mass.
South West Water said it spends an additional £4.5 million every year on clearing blocks from its 17,000km sewer network and discovered the fatberg during routine maintenance.
A video below filmed by a utility shows the scale of the challenge: