Tennis balls, large Pooh clog British sewers

Hundreds of debris-covered tennis balls block a sewer intake

Story highlights

  • Tennis balls cause sewer blockage, flooding
  • Sizable Pooh teddy bear, among others, also clog sewers
  • 75% of UK sewer blockages are caused by foreign objects

In Wimbledon's second week, tennis seems to be all over the place, even in the sewer. On Thursday, engineers arrived in the English town of Melton Mowbray to unclog a blocked sewer intake that was causing floods in the area. The root of the problem left experts puzzled, according to BBC News. Piled up in a grate, under a layer of waste, were hundreds of tennis balls.

"We expect sewers to get blocked with fats or baby wipes," said sewerage network manager Scott Burgin to the BBC. "But not tennis balls."

Staff from the Severn Trent Water firm were dispatched to clear the blockage, using both shovels and their hands. But if history is any indicator of what is to come, they will soon be back.

"How on Earth people have managed to flush quite so many (balls), I don't know, but this is just one example of amazing things we find blocking the sewers," Burgin said.

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According to The Independent, the list is nothing short of "staggering." Perhaps the most ironic denizen of the British sewers was a large Pooh, a stuffed Winnie the Pooh teddy bear, that is.

Pooh's subterranean counterparts found blocking drains and manholes include a pair of trousers, a snake, a traffic cone, a tractor tire, a still-functional clothing iron, a live badger, a mattress and a fully grown dead cow, The Independent reported.

These drains are not large, either.

"The wastewater drain which runs from your house to the public sewer is usually only about four inches wide, which is less than the diameter of a DVD," Chris Wallace, director of communications at Scottish Water, told The Independent.

According to the BBC, Severn Trent Water said around 75% of sewer blockages stem from foreign objects (see: Winnie the Pooh, hundreds of tennis balls) introduced into the system.