Hundreds of tennis balls blocking Leicestershire sewer puzzle Severn Trent Water engineers

Severn Trent Water staff members are used to nappies and baby wipes blocking drains, not sports equipment

A water firm has been left baffled after its engineers discovered hundreds of tennis balls blocking a sewer in Leicestershire.

Severn Trent Water staff members were called out to investigate flooding in Melton Mowbray after rain water was unable to enter the drainage system.

If undiscovered, the balls could have caused sewage to build up in the area and overflow into people’s homes and gardens.

The organisation spends £10 million a year cleaning the thousands of blockages reported in Leicestershire each year, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

Objects that most often cause problems include nappies, baby wipes and so-called ‘fatbergs’, but staff members were puzzled by how such a large number of tennis balls entered the system.

Scott Burgin, sewerage network manager said: “We expect sewers to get blocked with fats or baby wipes, but not tennis balls!  How on earth people have managed to flush quite so many, I don’t know, but this is just one example of amazing things we find blocking the sewers.

“Having sewage flooding inside your home due to sewers being blocked is one of the most horrible things that can happen to you, and we don’t want our customers to suffer in this way, as it’s entirely preventable." 

He added that only toilet roll, water and human waste are able to pass easily through home drainage systems which are usually only a few inches wide.

“These sewer blockages, if not identified and cleared can lead to sewers backing up and overflowing into people’s homes and gardens.

"So get yourself a bin in the bathroom and kitchen and use that rather than the toilet," he advised.

“And if you have lots of spare tennis balls – donate them – I’m sure local schools or tennis clubs would love to have them.”

The incident oddly coincided with Wimbledon 2014, where reigning men's champion Andy Murray crashed out of the tournament on Wednesday.

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