2,115 tons of wet wipes and other things like cotton buds have been removed from waste water treatment works in Sussex between April and November last year.
Wipes, sanitary products and cotton wool can block sewers after being flushed down the toilet, potentially causing serious problems like the flooding of homes and gardens as sewers back up and overflow from manholes.
Paul Kent, Southern Water’s Wastewater Strategy Manager, said:
The use of wet wipes and things like make-up wipes, moist toilet tissue and cleaning wipes, apparently rises by 15 per cent each year but this trend is putting a strain on our sewers – as shown by the huge amount cleared from our works.
Unlike toilet roll, these wipes don’t break down when flushed, so frequently cause blockages. They can also cause damage at our treatment works as they can get tangled up in pumps and filters. Even those said to be ‘flushable’ cause problems – they may flush away but they don’t biodegrade so can still block pipes further down the line.
The same applies to things like cotton buds, dental floss, make up wipes and cotton wool. Flushing them causes a pain in the drain, which is why we urge people to only flush the three Ps – pee, poo and paper.
The sewers’ other biggest enemy is cooking fat poured down drains, which solidifies over time. Last year, 11,000 blockages in Southern Water’s region were caused by fat, wipes and other things that should not be in sewers. It’s a nation-wide problem – in England and Wales, more than two thirds of sewer blockages are caused by inappropriate items finding their way down the sink or toilet.
Bag it and Bin it is a national campaign led by the water industry to promote responsible disposal of non-biodegradable items.
For information about the best way to dispose of items see the Southern Water website: www.southernwater.co.uk/bag-it-bin-it.