Adelaide sewer scrub rescues entangled action heroes


Adelaide sewer scrub rescues entangled action heroes

A deep clean of Adelaide’s sewers has yielded a few surprising discoveries, with one of the Power Rangers and Spider-Man rescued from wads of flushed wet wipes as part of SA Water’s proactive cleaning program.

The initiative targets hotspot suburbs to help reduce the risk of blockages and overflows, as well as minimise the potential for odour from the network and has led to the removal of construction material, clusters of fat and oil, tonnes of silt, and even mop heads from this latest round of cleaning.

During the past six months, more than 130 kilometres of sewer pipes have been cleaned and inspected across the metropolitan area, including in the Adelaide CBD, Darlington, Ethelton, Flagstaff Hill and Greenwith.

SA Water’s Senior Manager of Infrastructure Planning and Strategy Daniel Hoefel said beyond rescuing action figures, the preventative program plays an important role in keeping Adelaide’s sewers healthy.

“Our sewers exist to protect the health of our communities and the environment, and this work aims to ensure we can keep our number ones and twos flowing all the way to our treatment plants,” Daniel said.

“We continually track any odour events or sewer overflows to identify the worst performing suburbs across Adelaide, especially where it’s resulted in sewage entering the environment, such as a creek or reserve.

“Typically, the foothills experience more blockages due to the presence of thirsty tree roots, which break into sewer pipes looking for water and continue to grow, blocking the flow of sewage.

“In Adelaide’s west, the soil composition is rather loose and sandy which makes it easier for this material to find its way into our pipes and build up over time.

“To put this into perspective, we recently removed more than 110 tonnes of silt from a 1,900–metre-long section of one of our large sewer mains in Birkenhead.

“Through access chambers on the road, our crews use a specialised vacuum truck equipped with a jet rodder – which is a hose operated at a high pressure and uses the power of water to cut through blockages – to work their way through the pipe and remove any unwanted material or objects.

“Given sewage is actually 99.9 per cent water, all of the water we remove from the sewer network is recycled and supplies the jet rodder, as the truck is designed to separate liquids and solid matter.

“We also perform CCTV inspections to assess the impact of cleaning and structural integrity of the sewer main to understand if they require any further maintenance, such as relining the inside of the pipe.

“Importantly, these initiatives combine to help minimise network odour and reduce the risk of overflows within customer properties or to the environment.”

In 2022-23, more than 3,500 of Adelaide’s sewer blockages were caused by things that shouldn’t have been flushed or rinsed.

Mr Hoefel said these ‘unflushables’ make up a quarter of all blockages – and could be easily avoided.

“This includes cooking fats and oils, condoms, tampons and wet wipes, which are usually found blocking a customer’s connection point, increasing the risk of an overflow inside their home,” Daniel said.

“Only ever flushing the three Ps – pee, poo and (toilet) paper – and putting everything else into the bin will help you protect your and our pipes and avoid these situations.

“We also encourage everyone to let any excess fats and oils cool in the pan, before mopping up small amounts with paper towel to pop in the bin or store in an old jar or container.”





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