Sewage facts you never knew

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Sewage has been hitting the headlines recently for all the wrong reasons. Holidaymakers and nature lovers are right to be concerned about the current rate of sewage discharges into our rivers and seas. But how to solve the issue of human waste with a growing population is not simple. It is also a fascinating subject and over the past 1000 years has led to some of the most ingenious and impressive engineering feats in history. Here are some sewage facts we bet you never knew.

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When in Rome, poo as the Romans poo

The first known sewage system was the Cloaca Maxima (meaning ‘Great Drain’), built by the Romans and named after Cloacina, the goddess of sewers. It was credited with reducing the prevalence of malaria in ancient Rome as marshy areas were drained. This early system was replicated all across the Roman Empire. Some parts of this great feat of engineering are still in use today and you can visit parts of it in central Rome.


Whitechapel is famous for Jack the Ripper. But have you heard of the infamous Whitechapel fatberg the size of a double-decker bus removed from the sewage system in 2019. It was so large, and such a mammoth task to remove, that part of it was put on display at the Museum of London.

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An expensive (and smelly) issue

Water UK estimates that there are 300,000 sewer pipe blockages per year, costing £100 million to unblock and repair. Severn Water estimates that 30,000 of these occur in Wolverhampton and Walsall alone, and the Midlands generally is seen as a blockage hotspot.

If dodgy sewers and pipes are issues you are dealing with, those considering services like pipe unblocking and sewer pipe lining Wolverhampton and the wider Midlands should consider engaging the services of professionals such as Sewage is not something you should ever deal with yourself!

Bunch of Toshers

In the 1800s it was a legitimate profession to go down into the London sewers and search through raw sewage (known as tosh) to find things to sell on.

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