Fatbergs have become a major problem within sewer networks around the UK. Thames Water recently discovered a 130 tonne, rock solid fatberg within Whitechapel East London. The fatberg was discovered blocking a stretch of Victorian sewer which measured a massive 250 metres long. The fatberg which has now been named the ’Whitechapel fatberg’ consisted of oil, grease, fat, wet wipes and other un-flushable items, and is one of the biggest ever found. Although Thames Water take great pride in routinely checking their sewers, fatbergs build up quickly and can cause disastrous floods via the blockage of pipes and rising waters. If the Fatberg had not been discovered during one of the routine inspections there would have been a real risk of raw sewage flooding on to the streets of Whitechapel. Although this is an extreme example, fatbergs are quickly becoming a major issue within the water network industry. The ‘Whitechapel fatberg’ has significantly highlighted the problem which other water companies are facing due to the mistreatment of sewer networks.
This is where HWM products such as the Sonic Sens ultrasonic sensor can help sewer networks all over the UK. The sensor is ideal for measuring water level, as part of a remote monitoring/telemetry system. Using an ultrasonic pulse to measure level, the device is not in contact with its environment which stops the unit from becoming contaminated and lowers maintenance requirements. It is also low power, allowing it to operate for extended periods of time. When combined with an Intelligens logger, the combination of non-contact, low power and remote telemetry make the Sonic Sens ideal for remote or challenging installations such as sewer networks which can sit many metres underground.
As the Sonic Sens was specifically designed for the waste water sector, it is the ideal solution to help detect rising waters which could be a result of fatbergs. The flexible sensor has multiple alarm thresholds which allows for remote alerts to be generated. As soon as the water level reaches one of the selected alarm triggers (which may indicate a blockage) the Sonic Sens will notify multiple recipients and allow for appropriate action can be taken in a fast and effective manner.
It goes without saying that fatbergs are a massive inconvenience to water companies but they are also very costly to remove. For example, it took Thames Water nine weeks of using high powered jet hoses to break up the mass before sucking it out with tankers, and as a result of the damage that the fatberg had caused, a lot of the work had to be done by hand which took up precious man hours and resources. Thames Water spends £1m a month clearing blockages in its sewer network with workers working a gruelling seven days a week.
With HWM’s Sonic Sens sensor in place companies can now detect rising water levels and act on issues in a fast and effective manner. Not only is the Sonic Sens helping water companies monitor blockages it’s also helping them save time, money and resources .