A water company has urged its customers to help it “stop the block” after a new study showed nearly all blockages are primarily caused by wet wipes.
Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water made the call after industry body Water UK published a report which showed 93% of blockages are caused by different types of wipes – which are often wrongly labelled as “flushable”.
The in-depth study revealed wipes being flushed down toilets are causing serious problems in the sewerage system. Less than 1% of the domestic waste in the blockages was identified as made up of products which are designed to be flushed, such as toilet paper.
There are around 300,000 sewer blockages every year across the UK, costing £100 million. Welsh Water itself has approximately 2,000 blockages reported to it every month, and invests £7 million a year to tackle blockages in the sewer network.
Blockages are caused by people flushing everyday items like cotton buds and wet wipes down the toilet; or rinsing things like fat, oil and food scrapings down the sink.
When a sewer or drain blocks, it can cause flooding in your own home or a neighbour’s property. Blockages can also lead to environmental pollution, damaging rivers and beaches.
Wet wipes (including those labelled as “flushable”), disposable nappies and sanitary products are the main items that cause problems; but kitchen oil, fats and grease can also lead to major blockages. These items should not be disposed of down the drain.
Welsh Water has asked customers to only flush materials designed to be flushed – pee, poo and paper – in the toilet as part of its Let’s Stop the Block campaign.
Head of Wastewater Networks, Imogen Brown, said: “We welcome the Water UK study today which shows just how much of a problem wet wipes are when they enter the sewer system.
“We know most customers are careful in how they use toilets and sinks, however we’ve found that some people just do not realise that flushing or pouring the wrong things away can have such serious consequences.”