Stones, bottles blocked sewer and led to floods

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The retrieval of bottles and stones from sewers in an area plagued by flooding has prompted calls for people to be more careful about what they put down the toilet.

NI Water, the public water and sewerage utility, said rubbish has had to be removed from sewers in the Bluebell Hill Gardens area at least three times since the start of 2019.

This, the company said, was likely a contributary factory to surface water flooding in the street, which is located immediately opposite the Brandywell Stadium.

“NI Water fully appreciates the frustration caused by sewer blockages.

“On Friday, February 22, NI Water crews attended a sewer blockage in the Bluebell Hill Gardens area of the Brandywell. The sewer line was cleaned and flushed out,” a spokesperson for the utility explained.

And, remarkably, this was the third occasion the sewers in have had to be cleansed in the area this year. Bottles, rubbish and stones were removed from the underground drainage system, both in January, and at the start of February.

“NI Water crews had previously carried out a desilt of the sewer in the area in January. A number of plastic bottles and rubbish were removed.

“NI Water crews also attended on February 1 when stones and rubbish were removed from the sewer. NI Water will carry out a further CCTV investigation of the sewer within the week. NI Water would like to take this opportunity to appeal to the local community to work with us and help prevent blockages by being mindful of what they put down the sewer.”

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue said: “There is a particular problem with this street that any time there is heavy rain the water runs to both sides of the roadway. This is leaving large stretches of water along the length of the street. Anyone getting in or out of a car or parking up has to step out into the areas of flooding and the same for any resident having to cross the street. I have been in contact with NI Water to see if a resolution can found to stop the flooding.”

The spokesperson for the water service said: “NI Water has spent over £1.5 billion investing in water and wastewater infrastructure but no amount of investment will completely stop blocked pipes and out of sewer flooding if people continue to flush wipes (including those labelled as flushable), sanitary items and cotton buds down the toilet.Customer awareness and behaviour change is the only real way to address sewer misuse; the message is simple, don’t flush anything other than the 3Ps: pee, poo and paper, and keep wastewater flowing through our network.”