Monday, 13 February 2017

Thames Tideway Tunnel; The Future of London Sewerage Systems

By now, you have probably heard about the latest project of London, The Thames Tideway Tunnel; but the question everyone is asking is what exactly is it? Well you’re in luck as that is what we will be discussing here.

The Thames Tideway Tunnel is the solution that Bazalgette Tunnel Ltd came up with to overcome the excess overflows that the current London sewerage system has. The proposed design of the tunnel is that it will be 25 km long and 65 meters deep; it will run from Acton Storm Tanks, under the tidal section of the Thames, through central London and make its way to the Abbey Mills pumping station.

The project was due to start in 2016 and is expected to be completed by 2023 with the total estimated cost of the project being around £4.2 billion; the cost of which will be covered by Thames Water customers, regardless if they are living in or out of London; with their water and sewerage bills being estimated to increase up to £80 a year by the time 2020 comes around. There have been some discussions regarding cheaper alternatives, an example would be creating more green spaces around London to soak up the rainfall which will reduce the amount of water that drains away into the sewers but also increase the overall health of the environment, but it has been decided that the best option, in the long term, would be to proceed with the creation of the tunnel.

Originally, when the system was designed in the 19th century by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, it was estimated to only serve four million people with a failsafe being implemented for overflow to go into the Thames river through 57 combined sewer overflows (CSO) situated by the banks of the river; this failsafe was to stop sewage from backing up and flooding people’s homes. Fast forward a hundred or so years later and the overall population of London has doubled making the current system inadequate as it was not designed to take that much-combined sewage; with most of the areas built later in outer London having their own sewerage system and rainwater infrastructure built to deal with their sewage.
When the sewer system was first designed, it was only predicted to overflow 12 or so times every year, but with the population increase, this figure has increased to around 60 times a year, due to this, CSOs have polluted the Thames to the point that it the river is in breach of the EU Urban Waste Water Directive.

As stated, the Thames Tideway Tunnel is going to be used to deal with the overflow problem London has, it works by intercepting 34 of the 57 CSOs, the discharge points of these 34 CSOs will be diverted and connect to the tunnel which will be located underneath the Thames; this means that instead of polluting the river further, the waste water will be stored underneath it and be pumped up to the Beckton Sewerage Treatment Works, where upon treatment, the cleaned water will be released into the river, hopefully resolving the pollution that has occurred.

Modern Drainage Systems; Inspired by Romans

Most modern-day drainage systems have been inspired or influenced by the complex system that Ancient Romans used to use. Romans had ‘latrines’ composed of a wooden board with holes cut out to act as a toilet seat; below these ‘latrines’ was a giant trench with water that, when flushed, ran to a central channel to the main sewers; these then discharged to a nearby river or stream.

It is presumed that between 800 and 750 BC, the first ever sewers of ancient Rome were built. Although these were more for removing underground water and surface drainage whilst the drainage systems were built to initially drain marshes and storm runoffs rather than the complex system we know today. It wasn’t until ‘Cloaca Maxima’ was created in fourth century BC that the sewerage system – as a whole, took off. The original purpose of Cloaca Maxima or Greatest Sewer was to drain low-lying lands around the Forum.

Although the sewers of Rome were more advanced than others in that era, it was not unusual for people to throw their waste out of their windows onto the streets; eventually a law was created to protect bystanders from assault via thrown waste. The law forced the person who threw the waste to pay damages to whoever they hit, if they received an injury. Enforcement of the law only occurred during daytime, as no one could use the lack of light as an excuse for injuring other through carelessness.

Since early times, to drain away rainwater – and in a bid to imitate Etruscans – the Romans created underground channels; these prevented precious top-soil from being washed away. They also drained swamps using ditches and drained marshy areas by digging up subterranean channels. Eventually, the Romans expanded most of their sewers and some of their drains to link with Cloaca Maxima which then ran and emptied to the Tiber River.

Around the time of AD 100, Roman homes were starting to be directly connected to the sewers, with most of the sewer infrastructure being completed. Throughout the city of Rome, sewers were being laid out to serve private and public latrines, and to be used as a dumping ground for those not yet connected to the sewers, however it was the wealthier citizens whose latrines were connected directly to the sewers, this was done using outlets which ran underneath an extension of the latrine.

For those who didn’t have the advantage of wealth, they used pots that they were then supposed to empty in the sewer, or they used public latrines. These latrines however had little to offer in terms of privacy and became one of the places to socialise, most of the time the use of these were free but others required a small charge to be made. Public latrines date back to the second century BC. Using public bath water, Romans recycled this to become part of the flow that flushes latrines down to the sewer system.

Primer on Culverts

Culverts have been in existence since ancient times, used by the Romans for their aqueducts and Egyptians to channel water from the Nile river. Culverts are used by a lot of businesses and residences if they have some water issues and they’re used by cities within their drainage systems to minimize the risk of floods. Culverts work by guiding storm water along the culvert pipe onto a natural or manmade reservoir where the water will eventually evaporate and return to the atmosphere.

Modern drainage systems were inspired by the Roman aqueducts, with today’s culverts being made from either plastic, metal, concrete or PVC pipes. Most residences use pipes that are of high quality to prevent corrosion due to the cost of replacing them. Steel culverts are generally more suited to handle higher water pressure than those made from plastic or concrete, but these are also quite expensive. A preferred and less costly choice are culverts made from PVC pipes, the only downside to these are that they don’t come in large diameters.

The length of culverts is generally short, with open ends on both sides, generally culverts are buried at a depth underground to allow the transport of water with little to no obstructions. The structure of the drainage system is important as it affects the overall road or drainage interface; although the installation does not require a lot of pipes.

Culverts rarely gets blocked and are normally free of any obstructions such as leaves, dirt and other debris but when if they do get blocked, it needs to be cleared immediately as left unattended this can cause the water to backup or cause the culvert to collapse all together. If the water in a culvert starts backing up, it could potentially cause a flood which will damage the surrounding area but when a culvert collapses it has the potential to injure others or worse, but this depends on the location of the culvert.

For more information about culverts give us a call or send us an enquiry via email.

The History of CCTV Technology (1942 to Present)

In today’s age; CCTV technology is something we take advantage of. Over 90% of the world employ The History of CCTV Technology (1942 to Present)the use of this technology in their homes, streets and businesses, this has become something we have accepted. CCTV help boost the security for both businesses and customers and can give them further peace of mind.

Through the years, CCTV systems have evolved from the earlier designs to the ones we see today. Here is a brief history of CCTV technology

Live Monitoring

Germany 1942; the first ever recorded use of CCTV. It was designed by engineer Walter Bruch and was used to watch over and monitor the V-2 rockets. This was its first use until 1949 when it became commercialised, it was in this year that Vericon (an American government contractor) started to advertise the technology.

These earlier versions could only transmit live video and had no option or any technology to record, so someone had to constantly be monitoring these.

Primitive Video Recordings

As time went on, new ingenious ways were discovered, one of which was the reel-to-reel recording system; these were made to help save the gathered data. The downside of these were that the magnetic tapes had to be replaced by hand; making this a difficult, unreliable, time consuming and costly process. Operators of this system had to manually feed the tape from the reel through the recorder and to an empty take up reel. These systems were quite rare.

The Emergence of VCRs

A turning point for CCTV technology was the emergence of Video Cassette Recordings or VCRs in the 1970s. These were immediately assimilated into surveillance systems, revolutionising the way cameras worked.

By using VCRs, the cameras were now able to run without the need for someone to monitor it as they were now able to record the information and users could then view the recording afterwards. This made CCTV popular as a surveillance method for businesses.

Although, it should be noted that even though these were far more efficient than previous versions, it was still quite unreliable as the tapes had to constantly be changed or re-written as they only had a limited amount of space. If users such businesses wanted to record information over a long period, they had to keep a library of tapes.


Another event that helped develop CCTV technology was the development of multiplexing solutions in the late 1990s. Multiplexing allowed video signals from multiple CCTV cameras to be combined and shown on a single monitor. This allowed CCTV technology to become more efficient; increasing its popularity with the masses.

Multiplexing worked by taking one or more video signals, combining them, synchronising them using the multiplexer and recording these onto one tape. Businesses with more than one CCTV camera found this useful as they didn’t have to use loads of tape for each camera.

Going Digital

Since we have entered the millennial era, development of new technology has been on the rise and CCTV is no exception. The previous uses of VCRs in CCTV systems have been replaced by more user-friendly and easier to use DVRs. Multiplexers are now already pre-built into these making them easier to install and use. They have also eliminated the need for video tapes, removing the need to keep a library of tapes to store recorded information.


Now, people can buy Network Video Recorders (NVRs), these types of recorders encode and process videos in the camera, then streaming the processed videos to NVRs to be stored or viewed remotely. NVRs are popular for many business with multiple site locations as it allows them to monitor said locations remotely at once through the network at a higher quality than DVRs.

Flood Prevention

If you live in a flood risk area, then you must take necessary steps to ensure little-to-no damages occur; these damages can range from health threats to property damage and in some cases even death. Below are some things you can do to minimize these risks.

Buy Flood Insurance. 

As with most things, it is better to get insurance in case anything ever happens. Damages caused by floods do not usually fall under a homeowner’s insurance policies, so it is advised to invest in flood insurance. Even if your area isn’t at a high flood risk, it is still better to be prepared as even low risk areas can suffer flooding due to an inadequate drainage system or burst water mains.

If you are living or based in a high-flood risk area, then there are still a couple of things you can do to minimize the damage caused by floods.
  • Place any and all utilities (furnace, air condition, water heater etc) in high surfaces
  • Install "check valves" in your sewer traps as a way to prevent flood water backups
  • Construct interior barriers to prevent low-level floodwater from getting inside your home.
  • Use waterproofing compounds to seal your walls and avoid seepage
  • Move any important papers/inventory from places floods can reach i.e. low level shelves
  • Back-up any computer data you may have on an external hard drive and keep it somewhere safe
  • Always follow health and safety advise, learn flood evacuation routes and every other step to keep yourself safe.
Organize your farm to escape manure runoff into streams. 

If you live on a farm in a medium-to-high flood risk area, it is important to know that flooding can increase the chances of manure running off into rivers, streams, and groundwater. These could potentially contaminate private water wells used for drinking and could also result into pollution; killing fishes that may have lived in said streams and rivers. It is critical to act fast to prevent this when flooding occurs.

Guarantee safe dams and prepare for emergency plans.  

If you are a Dam owner, then you need to follow these steps to avoid any risks to human lives and damages to properties when it starts flooding.
  • Review the Emergency Action Plan (EAP) of your Dam; if you don’t have one, you can easily make one
  • You need to have proper coordination of your dam’s operation with both downstream and upstream dam owners.
  • Check if you have a contingency or backup plan in place, these could consist of emergency operations or procedures.
Make an early observation of water level and ice flow. 

Operate the dam in a well-timed routine to lessen risk gate failure and/or damage. Make sure you refer to dam safety and floodplain zoning maps to get an estimate of lands likely to be flooded if you fail to have a dam failure analysis map. Taking into observation these steps will go a long way into saving you, your home, business and environment from the hazards of flooding.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Hazards Of Flooding

Flood water or standing water pose various risks including but not limited to; infectious diseases, chemical hazards, and injuries. When returning to your home after a flooding emergency, be aware that flood water may contain sewage.

Diarrheal Diseases

Eating or drinking anything contaminated by flood water can cause diarrheal disease.

To prevent this:
  • Practice good hygiene (handwashing) after contact with flood waters. 
  • Do not allow children to play in flood water areas. 
  • Wash children’s hands frequently (always before meals). 
  • Do not allow children to play with toys that have been contaminated by flood water and have not been disinfected. 
Wound Infections

Open wounds and rashes exposed to flood waters can become infected.

To prevent this:
  • Avoid exposure to flood waters if you have an open wound. 
  • Cover open wounds with a waterproof bandage. 
  • Keep open wounds as clean as possible by washing well with soap and clean water. 
  • If a wound develops redness, swelling, or drainage, seek immediate medical attention.

Health Risks of Asbestos

What is Asbestos?

It is a group of minerals with thin microscopic fibres that are resistant to heat, fire and chemicals and don’t conduct electricity, due to these traits it has been mined and used in various industries; particularly construction and automotive.

If asbestos-containing-products are disturbed, the fibres are released in the surrounding air and can be breathed in; the tiny fibres can become trapped in the lungs and stay there for a number of years and overtime these fibres build up and lead to serious health problems.

Some of these problems include but are not limited to:
  1. Asbestosis, an inflammatory condition of lungs that can cause shortness of breath, coughing, and eventually scarring of the lungs that makes it hard to breathe 
  2. Mesothelioma, a rare cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, chest cavity, or abdomen 
  3. Lung cancer; and Other lung problems, including pleural plaques. 
Reduce The Risk Of Asbestos

Before work commences, create an assessment of the area and take into account the possibility of asbestos. If the work has the chance of disturbing asbestos fibres then special precautions will need to be in place to ensure the safety of workers.

Any materials that are in poor or deteriorating condition may require you to take action, so check if it is asbestos, and if so, repair, seal or remove the material in order to control the risk.

Health Risks of Working In A Sewer

What is sewage?

This may be used to describe raw sewage, sewage sludge, or septic tank waste. Raw sewage is mainly water containing human waste, industrial effluent and debris, such as sanitary towels, condoms, plastic etc. The major source of harmful micro-organisms, including bacteria, viruses and parasites is sewage; although sewage treatment does reduce the water content and removes debris it does not kill or remove all the micro-organisms. Exposure to sewage or its products may result in a number of illnesses.

These include: gastroenteritis, diarrhoea and vomiting; Weil’s, damage to liver, kidneys and blood may occur and the condition can be fatal; hepatitis, and jaundice; occupational asthma, infection of skin or eyes; and/or rarely, allergic alveolitis fever, breathlessness, dry cough, and aching muscles and joints.

How do micro-organisms enter the body?

Micro-organisms can enter your body through various ways but the most common way is by hand-to-mouth i.e. eating, drinking, smoking. They can also enter through skin contact via cuts, scratches or penetrating wounds; there are also certain organisms that can enter through the surface of the eyes, nose and mouth.

Prevent The Spreading Of Germs

There are various methods that have been discovered to prevent the spreading of germs in the workplace and at home. A prime example would be to cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.

Avoid close contact. 

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

Stay home when you are sick. 

If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.

Clean your hands.

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches a surface or object that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

Health Risks Associated With Mold and Damp

The presence of damp and mold in your home won’t just affect the look of your house but also your health. There is a musty smell accompanied with lack of ventilation. These smells are associated with damp. The reason why we have more cases of biological agents in our indoor environment is because of the presence of damps and improper ventilation. When there is excess moisture on all indoor materials, there would automatically be the growth of varieties of microbes such as fungi, bacteria, mold and others. All they do is emit cells, spores and volatile organic compounds into the indoor environment. With these negative developments, damps and molds have been suggested to be capable of creating health problem.

It is very essential that you keep your home at a perfect and favorable humidity level. This is because allowing molds to grow and develop will only attract dust mites. Molds are well capable of contaminating every other place in your home if you don’t take any step against them. It can develop and spread to your floor, upholstery and even any carpet close to the affected area.

Because molds comes from the fungus family, it Is necessary you take steps to eliminate them, if you don’t, it will create some health related issues for both you and your pets.

Have you ever felt that damp smell? If yes! Then just know that there are fungi happily developing in your home, and the most efficient way you can stop their development is by using a dehumidifier. Now that we understand that both mold and damp are not environmental and health friendly, we also need to understand the health risk associated with the damp and mold present in homes.

Obviously, the most common health related risk associated with the presence of molds and damps in homes is its negative effect on the lungs. These effects often come in form of dry throat, cough, and wheezing. Perhaps you are experiencing this symptom. You can do yourself a favor by checking for any availability of damps and molds in your home. Are you an asthma patient? Or you live with someone suffering from it? If yes, then you need to be more careful with damps and molds because it has been discovered to trigger or ignite asthma attacks in people, it can lead to respiratory problems.

Excess damp can also constitute to symptoms which we can relate with cold. These symptoms include puffy eyes, runny nose, headache and tiredness. If you fail to solve your damp problem, then you are actually welcoming a much risky case known as flu. The reason for this occurrence is that a developed mold would form the dust mites which many people are allergic to.

To reference our point, in some years back, guidelines were issued by the World Health Organization for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mold. Moreover, different recent studies have discovered a highly effective relationship between exposure to mold and asthma in children. This is much common to children who are much susceptible to asthma. Therefore you shouldn’t joke with the issue of damps and molds in your home if you want a healthy family. It doesn’t stop here. There are also relationship between damp, mold and other adverse effects like acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage in infants, memory loss, or lethargy, and molds, including the mold Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra). Although these relationship have not yet been strongly proven. Further studies are necessary to find out the real cause of acute idiopathic hemorrhage and all other adverse health effects. Above all, it is important you know how to clean any mold in your home. The next question here is, what steps do you need to take to ensure that you are safe from the adverse effect of damps and molds? Well it is not so hard, nobody is teaching you a rocket science-like method here, they are all simple and easy to implement.

Don’t ever make the mistake of leaving your laundries to dry indoors without receiving ventilation. What we mean here is that make sure your open your windows.

Do you love to close your windows when showering? If yes! Please stop, because this is the top reason why you see those molds growing in your bathroom. Always open those windows.

If you notice the presence of damp in a particular area of your home, don’t worry, check the nearest stores and ask for a dehumidifier. It helps to eliminate any excess moisture found in air solving the issue before it result into any health problems.

Clean! Clean and clean, if you notice any sign of mold, don’t ignore, remove immediately using your detergent. This would go a long way in making you escape the health risks associated with mold and damp.

Author: Peter Brown

Friday, 8 January 2016

Slough Waters

The town of Slough belongs to the Berkshire district of England, around 20 miles to the west of central London. Slough has met with major redevelopments from its aged architecture. Its buildings have been replaced with office spaces and shopping complexes. Most of the redevelopment is still underway, since its beginning in 2009 and due for completion in 2018. The small town also saw large expansions, absorbing neighboring towns such as Upton, Cippenham, Chalvey and Colnbrook, which have all now become the area’s suburbs.

Jubilee River
The Jubilee River, located in Southern England, stretches up to 11.6 kilometers long and about 45 meters wide on average. It was constructed for the purpose of containing overflowing waters from the River Thames to relieve flooding in surrounding towns of Buckinghamshire and Berkshire. Prior to its construction, floods were even more frequent in areas like Widsor and Maidenhead. Despite its man-made properties, the Jubilee River is said to act exactly like a natural river, including its banks that have been artificially built to replace natural banks that were lost from urban development.

Queen Mother Reservoir
The Queen Mother Reservoir occupies a large area of 475 acres, easily making it one of the largest water bodies in the Southern part of England. The unique attribute about this reservoir is that its water quality improves while being retained. As the water being contained settles, larger particles will fall through to the bottom and other contaminants are degraded through natural biological processes. The water is further treated using sand filters before being transferred into London’s watersupply. The Queen Mother Reservoir is a popular destination for sailing, picnicking, and bird-watching.

Black Park Lake
The entire park itself takes up 530 acres of land, with certain areas designed as sites of special scientific interest. Situated between Slough and Iver Heath, the Black Park Lake is a popular filming location and has been used as an outdoor filming space for numerous productions. Naturally, the Black Park Lake is a tranquil scene to take in with its fields of pine trees, grasslands, and wildlife. The lake is seasonally open for fishing, however keep nets and night fishing are forbidden in the area.

Unfortunately for Slough, its closest water bodies are located along its perimeters, leaving its main land prone to flooding. The Slough authorities warn that flooding can occur anywhere.