Fat-gobbling bugs to cut sewer blockages in Sheffield

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FAT-GOBBLING bugs have been deployed to rid Sheffield sewers of blockages over the festive period.

Yorkshire Water said it was unleashing an ‘innovative biological weapon’ with trillions of bacteria to feast on solidified fat, oils and grease at 180 known hotspots across the region - including Shiregreen as one of the worst affected - where build-ups are causing problems.

Substances poured down the sink, and household drains, are hardening on sewer pipes to reduce flow and in the worst case scenario flood homes.

The total amount of grease removed from sewers this year is estimated to be 2,000 tonnes - the equivalent weight of 400 average African elephants - and there is usually a 25 per cent increase in blockages around Christmas.

Pollution manager Patrick Killgallon said: “Having your home filled with waste from your toilet and indeed your sink is a very unpleasant experience, which no one should ever have to suffer, particularly over Christmas.

“That’s why we work hard to encourage people to think twice before they pour left over fat down the plug hole or flush the odd make-up wipe down the toilet.

“We’ve already removed more than 6,000 fat-related blockages from our network so far this year.

“At Christmas and New Year we typically see a lot more fat entering our sewers so we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep our sewers flowing freely.”

The bacteria, commonly found in the human gut, is mixed with non-chlorinated water before been poured into the sewer.

There they can multiply to carry on the work without the need for regular dosing.

Its use will reduce the risk of pollution and flooding as well as the amount of fat in sewers.

Yorkshire Water advises customers to dipose of fat by letting it cool and harden before scraping it into a bin.