Appeal to help wipe out sewer blockages
By Rob Freeman | 30th April 2020
Toilet paper may be in high demand in our shops during the coronavirus epidemic, but the public has been urged not to flush away any emergency replacements.
Severn Trent Water has issued the plea after pulling a mass of wipes and other unflushable materials from a sewer in Gloucester.
The blockage caused flooding in Victoria Street, Barton, and is part of an increase in problems caused by unsuitable items being flushed away.
Thames Water has reported a near 20 per cent rise in blockages after removing a 40kg 'ragberg' of nappies, sanitary products and wet wipes from a sewer in Maidenhead.
But it is not just the regular culprits such as cotton buds, dental floss, sanitary products, cotton wool and nappies which engineers are finding.
Seven Trent's list of items found blocking sewers include slippers, pants, jogging bottoms, cutlery, kids toys, false teeth, glasses, money, jewellery, bank cards and even much bigger items like motorbikes, car parts and a ride-on toy tractor.
Severn Trent area waste manager Matt Jeynes said: "We know just how worrying it is for everyone at the moment and we want to reassure our customers that we're working really hard to keep our essential services running.
"One of those essential services is unblocking clogged up sewer pipes."
"Having sewage flooding inside your home due to sewers being blocked like this one in Victoria Street is one of the most horrible things that can happen to you.
"We really don't want our customers to suffer in this way, especially right now."
The past year has seen thousands of blockages in Gloucestershire, around three-quarters of which are caused by people flushing away the wrong items.
Mr Jeynes said: "We know some people are having to resort to using a whole manner of things to substitute for toilet roll, but a sewer blockage is the last thing that anyone needs right now.
"The drains that take waste water away from your home are only a few inches wide and it doesn't take much for them to get clogged up with kitchen roll, wipes and fat."
He continued: "Mostly, when we ask people why they flush wipes, it's simply because they don't know that they shouldn't.
"It's really easy to do the right thing - make sure all wipes, kitchen roll, cotton buds and other sanitary products go straight into the bin, not down the toilet. That's going to help everyone and hopefully avoid any more horrible messes."
Severn Trent's advice is to flush only the 3Ps - pee, poo and paper.
The biggest cause of blockages is wipes with most which claim to be flushable not suitable as they do not disintegrate like toilet paper.
The only ones that meet the industry standard are the two brands which have the official Fine to Flush logo on - Andrew Washlets and Natracare Safe To Flush Moist Toilet Tissue.
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