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Thousands of kilometers of sewers cleaned in record-breaking programme

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Thames Water engineers have cleared record lengths of sewer spanning further than the distance between John O’Groats and Land’s End to help protect customers and the environment from flooding.
A total of 1,500km of underground pipes in the UK have been swept since April last year using a range of techniques, from hi-tech camera technology as part of the company’s digital revolution to hand tools on the most stubborn blockages.
The work is to ensure sewers can safely take away the wastewater of millions of customers in London and the Thames Valley without being blocked by obstacles like fatbergs.
Working with partners including Lanes Group, McAllister Group and OnSite, and despite the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the water company’s huge haul included a record-breaking 190km in February alone.
It has now set an ambitious target of 2,300km next year, the equivalent of a sewer stretching from London to Athens.
Matt Rimmer, Thames Water’s head of waste networks, said: “Despite not being the most glamorous job, battling fatbergs and other blockages in our sewers is absolutely vital in ensuring we’re able to safely take away the waste of our millions of customers.
“Once again we’ve carried out a record amount of cleaning this year, but we aren’t stopping there and have ambitious plans to go even further to keep our sewers flowing as smoothly as possible to help protect our customers and the environment.”
The vital work included using high powered water jets to blast away blockages and powerful vacuums to suck them out.
Next year’s programme will see engineers clean an average of 192km of sewers every month, equivalent to the distance from London to Newport in Wales.
Thames Water cleared a total of 900km of sewers in 2019/20, a 50% increase on the previous year’s total and three times higher than in 2017/18.