Where there’s muck there’s brass ... and there could be a potful at the bottom of your garden.
Water chiefs on the hunt for Lancashire’s hidden sewage pumps are promising homeowners they could be flush with cash if they find one on their property.
Almost 200 private pumping stations have so far been unearthed in gardens around the county.
But there are thought to be hundreds more lurking in bushes or skulking behind sheds.
And United Utilities is set to adopt many of them from 2016, saving households money on running costs and maintenance bills.
“It’s incredible how many of us have unexplained objects around our gardens,” said Beverley Wilkinson, who is leading the company’s search.
“Hopefully, we can help people get to the bottom of some of Lancashire’s household mysteries.”
Private pumping stations lift waste water from low-lying properties up into the main sewer. Their location is usually marked by a manhole cover and a cabinet or cupboard housing the equipment which powers the operation.
Residents living on the nine-acre site of an old cotton mill in the north of the county reckon they will save at least £70 a year after finding a pumping station in the middle of their community which will be signed over to United Utilities.
“I’d urge anyone else who has a mystery manhole or cupboard on their property to check the United Utilities website,” said Fred Shears, who lives on the Low Mill development, at Caton, near Lancaster.
“It doesn’t cost anything to check and could save you money and hassle knowing United Utilities will look after it in future.”
United Utilities estimates that there are more than 2,000 private pumping stations across the North West, with most home-owners unaware they have one on their property. Potential financial savings for people who transfer ownership vary depending on annual repair and maintenance bills and the amount of electricity used to power them.
So United Utilities has launched its pump hunt, urging people to check for clues in case there could be one on their property.