Occasionally local residents contact me to complain about obnoxious sewage smells coming from the United Utilities waste water treatment plant in Cheadle Heath. Whilst I always take up individual concerns directly with United Utilities. I also visited the Cheadle Heath site this month.
A clean water supply and dealing with waste is essential for the health and well-being of the population.
Since my last visit there have been new pumps installed to clean sludge more effectively and this should mean less chance of the pumping system failing and residents having to suffer obnoxious smells. There is also new equipment which United Utilities say can detect aromas before we can smell them. This means earlier detection and treatment.
I was very interested in their plan to contact residents more proactively by text, phone, letter and social media when there was a problem – and importantly for residents giving them information about how and by when it would be sorted.
We also talked about water charges. Water customers who switch to a water meter are often disappointed that their water bills haven’t gone down very much. This is because about half of our water bill goes to pay for treating the sludge rather than for the water we are actually using. A not inconsiderable amount of money is spent clearing blockages in the sewers – caused basically by people putting the wrong things down the toilet. Apparently the culprits include wet wipes, cotton wool, cotton buds, nappies and dental floss – not to be flushed down the toilet if we want our water costs to go down. It is also a problem for residents and also blockages can cause smells.
It is important that companies like United Utilities have public confidence and trust and people feel they are getting a good return for their money.