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Bra holds up sewage system


Northumbrian Water concludes that a brassiere and knickers blocked a sewer in Darlington, causing its failure and collapse of the road (NCE 28 June).

Evidently, 'this was a big bra, it had really large cups', but could the story be just a little too fl imsy?

The water board needs to give a fuller explanation. This 9in-diameter sewer is actually in Darlington's outlying village of Middleton St. George, which has nearly doubled in population in the past 20 years. Is this a combined sewer of Victorian vintage?

Is it now taking storm discharge from a more built-up catchment than before? Have attenuation elements and/or SUDS (sustainable urban drainage system) installed with new housing been adequately designed and maintained? Has Northumbrian Water's maintenance regime on this section of the sewerage been regular and effective? What is the size of the replacement pipe?

To the water board's credit, it responded promptly - on the day of the collapse - and reconstruction was complete within 12 days. Compared with recent flooding near Doncaster, the residents of the village were only moderately inconvenienced. They now realise that unwanted underwear is not flushable, but remain unconvinced about the adequacy of the village drainage infrastructure.

Desmond Scott (F), Middleton St. George, Darlington, County Durham uk

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