A MASSIVE slab of concrete dumped into the sewage system had the potential to cause a major stink in Omagh, as well as posing a pollution threat to the local river.
The discovery of the huge 30ft-long piece of masonry was made during a clean-up operation of the Omagh Inner Trunk Sewer, located on the banks of the River Strule.
NI Water who have released images of their find – dubbed ‘concreteberg’ – believe the slab was formed after concrete from a building site in the town was dumped into a manhole .
“Staff came across this concrete block as part of their four-week programme to clean this vital piece of infrastructure which collects sewage from Omagh Town. They couldn’t quite believe what they found and it took hours to break up and finally dislodge, not to mention the cost,” said Anthony McGirr, who is the wastewater manager for NI Water.
“This is typical of material getting into our sewers from new building works and developments. Combined with brick bats, stones and inappropriate rags it can be a real pain to get removed and a very expensive piece of maintenance work.”
Mr McGirr said those behind the dumping had shown a lack of respect for the vital infrastructure and also for the people living in the area.
He warned that opening a manhole or washing substances into the drainage system is prohibited.
“By obstructing the sewer in this way, it reduces the pipe capacity and the volume of waste it is able to take; this can lead to increased blockages and out of sewer flooding in the street or into a river.”
He added, “We have all seen the disgusting effects of an overflowing manhole in the street and no one wants to see or smell it, but the reality is, it happens regularly at a cost of millions to NI Water each year.”
Over the last ten years, more than £1.5 billion has been spent by NI Water in water and wastewater infrastructure.