Thursday 19th September 2019 12:00
Thames Water has spent the day raising awareness of a problem which sees pollution enter watercourses across its region.
Misconnections, when domestic pipes are incorrectly plumbed, sees the equivalent of 1.7 Olympic swimming pools of wastewater enter rivers and streams every day instead of being sent for treatment.
It is estimated one in ten properties in the Thames Water region has a misconnection, meaning toilets, showers and washing machines are connected to surface water drains rather than foul waste pipes.
To highlight the issue, the UK’s largest water company has been in Grovelands Park, Enfield, to explain to people how they can help solve the problem as part of ConnectRight’s National Drainage Misconnection Day.
In 2017, residents reported pollution in the park’s lake and after an extensive investigation it was discovered 17 washing machines, 13 dishwashers, 19 sinks and other appliances were effectively draining into it.
By working with the owners of offending properties and local authority, the issue was resolved and the pollution has vanished.
Richard Pumfrett, Thames Water’s environmental protection technical lead, said: “Most people probably don’t know about the issue of misconnections but they are having a real impact on our environment.
“In total we found 40 properties which had a misconnection leading to the lake. We’ve now resolved this, and it’s good to highlight the success, but it still remains a big problem.”
Thames Water works with environmental groups, the Environment Agency and local authorities to identify points where pollution is entering waterways to spot possible misconnections.
If pollution is spotted, an extensive investigation then takes place to identify the offending properties. Responsibility for fixing misconnections lies with the property owner. This position was recently backed up by the High Court which told an Enfield resident he had to fix the pipes in property after refusing to do so for a number of years.
Richard said: “Most misconnections have been done entirely by accident but we would urge anyone installing a new appliance or fitting new connections to make sure it has been fitted properly.
“Failing to do so could not only damage the environment but also lead to extremely expensive repair bills.”
For more information about misconnections and how to avoid them, visit: www.thameswater.co.uk/help-and-advice/drains-and-sewers/misconnected-pipes.