The Environmental Impacts of Sewer Blockages

There is no other way to describe a sewer blockage or overflow as something bad for the environment. Once raw sewage makes its way through the environment and into our water supply, we are at danger. We are seeing more sewage overflows with the use of wet wipes and unwanted objects going down the sink that are leading to blockages.

Any sewage infrastructure construction is designed to sit between 30 and 100 years old. While the materials might be designed to withstand time, they do not generally prevent blockages. The risks for blockages, malfunctions and deteriorations are still very much prevalent. Raw sewage has so many germs and pathogens that cause disease from worms, disease and protozoa. The diseases range from respiratory infections to hepatitis B, cryptosporidiosis, stomach flus and are all potentially life threatening.

When blockages and overflows happen people are then put at risk to the exposure to untreated sewage when they drink from a contaminated water source or eat animals from contaminated water and even from swimming in the affected waters. Animals are also at risk and the whole ecosystem becomes a concern. The biggest concern when waters are affected is the decrease in water quality and its implications.

The environment faces impacts of harmful algal blooms, hypoxia, floating debris and habitat degradation. There are over 50% of endangered species that are water dependant.

Natural flow of economic activity is disturbed

When sewage gets into water bodies like oceans, streams and lakes it disrupts the economic activity. Fishing is brought to a halt until the waters are clean again which is hard for those areas that depend on fishing and the aquatic industry for tourism, like Hawaii.

Sewage overflows cause damage to properties

Spills can not only cause harm to humans and species not to mention the plants and gardens but can also cause extreme structural damage to foundations and water damages to appliances and electrical all which are found to happen in the basement. Personal property and floor coverings can also be affected, and repair costs can go into the thousands and are often not covered by your insurance company. If the spills go further into yards, it can damage driveways and other  possessions. In contrast to the amount of money people normally spend to unclog a drain in their homes, millions of dollars are paid out annually to clean up and undertake repairs of sewage overflows and blockages to infrastructures, roads, parks and water supplies.

The solutions are minimal once the sewage has affected the home and the environment the damage is especially hard to remedy. By properly disposing of items we pour down the sink, ensure we fix any pipe problems that may appear to ensure we avoid blockages and overflows which will in turn have a positive impact on the environment and everything inside it from human life, wildlife, plantations and even our personal belongings.

You can contact your local council or environmental department to gain insight and much needed information about what you can do to avoid blockages and overflows within your local area and home. Spreading awareness is important to ensure everyone knows what impacts it will have and how the can avoid problems arising themselves.

How does good engineering prevent sewer blockages?

As has been mentioned above, sewer blockage can cause havoc on anything it touches. If your sewer is backed up you will be up for thousands of dollars when damage occurs to furniture, floors, electrical systems, and even healthcare should you or the people in your household are physically affected. You as a homeowner can be aware of things that can cause blockages as well as being aware of anything that is not installed or connected correctly which might cause problems.

What are the causes of sewer problems?

The civil engineering research centre says that they are seeing an increase in backed up sewers looking at around 4 percent annually. 

Aging sewer systems civil engineers indicate that with the 500,000 miles of sewer in America is around 30 years old and with the increasing homes being connected to the already establish sewer lines has contributed to more flooded basements, overflows and sewer backups. Good engineering comes with replacing the sewer lines as they age, and more homes become connected otherwise it just won’t be able to handle the pressure.

Combining pipelines

Problems are seen when storm water and sewage are combined in the same pipework. When rainstorms happen, the pipe-works are exposed to a lot more waste mass than they are made to handle and as a result of this the sewage backs ups and spews it out into low lying drains and basements.

Sanitary main blockages

Blockages can happen in the main line. If the blockage isn’t seen to in time, then the sewage from the main can back up into businesses and homes through their floor drains. Because these lines mainly run through the city, buildings in the city such as this building that is used to accomodate formal venues in Melbourne are at risk of being affected. There are often early indications of this but if engineers fail to see to the problem it will gradually grow and create havoc in your home and business.

How sewer blockages in the city main and your sewer lateral can be prevented

Good engineering comes into play here when we talk about preventing sewer blockages. If trees are close by the rooting system should be removed if it looks like a potential problem as the roots grow. All lines should be replaced with plastic pipe that will prevent any roots from getting into your sewer line. 

Get your pipes inspected for any illegal connections. Don’t let any engineers connect sump pumps. Flood control systems and French drains into your sanitary sewer. This is illegal and will cause problems as it clogs the lines. A plumber can do an inspection for any pre-existing connections that are deemed illegal.

Get prevention backwater valve

This is a fixture that gets installed in the sewer line and drain line in the home in order to prevent sewer backflows. If one is properly installed and gets maintained the backwater valve will allow sewage to flow out but not return in. This is almost always a compulsory procedure for commercial properties due to the scale, as seen on conference venues in Melbourne. This must be carried out by a plumber. Don’t take engineers’ words for the job is done right always get an inspection done to ensure nothing has been done incorrect or cutting corners and adding illegal connections has been done.

Correct and smart thinking engineering is the way to ensure the city doesn’t end up with sewer blockages.

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