Sniffing out utility “fatbergs” - grime fighting bloodhound set to work in England

To tackle the issue of fats, oils and grease (FOG) blocking its sewer networks, south coast based utility Southern Water decided to unleash its latest FOG fighter: a nine-stone former police dog...

Nov 25th, 2014

The cost for utilities to remove fats, oils and grease (FOG) poured down drains by customers is enough to make you stop and paws for thought.

Last summer utility Thames Water bit off more than it could chew after removing a bus sized “fatberg” from a sewer in Surrey. Each month it spends £1 million clearing blockages caused by fats, oils and grease wrongly poured down drains (see WWi story).

To tackle the issue, south coast based utility Southern Water decided to unleash its latest FOG fighter: a nine-stone former police dog.

In quite a remarkable tail, Hector the bloodhound is being trained to sniff out some of the 17,000 blockages caused every year on the company’s 40,000km network of sewers.

Fats and oils poured down drains can collect inside sewers and over time and restrict the flow of wastewater in the pipes – requiring dogged determination from utilities, at a great expense, to remove it.

Hector’s owner – Steve Williams - is a former police dog handler and one of Southern Water’s “Fat Detectives”, employed to ensure commercial customers are obedient and understand the problems caused by FOG in wastewater networks.

Williams said: “We use CCTV, sonar surveys and all manner of high-tech kit to search for blockages but as far as I know we’ve never used a bloodhound so I thought I’d give it a go.

“I’ve had Hector since he was eight weeks old and we worked together for Sussex Police for five years before he retired. Together we’ve searched for missing children and OAPs and numerous criminals on the run but now we’re fighting grime instead of crime and on the hunt for a big fat pain in the drain – FOG.”

Earlier this month Southern Water announced plans for an aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) project (see WWi story).

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Read more

Bus-sized 15 tonne ‘fatberg’ discovered in London Only months after utility Thames Water signed an agreement to help power a new facility with fats, oils and grease (FOG), it has removed a bus-sized lump of food fat from a sewer in Kingston, Surrey…

London wastewater treatment plant to be powered by FOG “fatbergs” Utility Thames Water has signed a 20-year agreement with 20C to take power from a new facility that will produce 130 Gigawatt hours (GWh) a year from fats, oils and grease (FOG)…

Aquifer storage and recovery project coming to Southern England Utility Southern Water is planning an aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) project in the town of Worthing to help store drinking water for future use…

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