Recently there has been a renewed focus on what people are putting down their toilets.

Water companies such as Southern Water, Yorkshire Water, Northumbria Water and South West Water are currently running a number of campaigns focussing on reminding clients to only flush the 3 Ps down their toilets and sinks. The Three Ps are:

  • Pooh,
  • Pee
  • Paper

South West Water’s website has the following tips on preventing blockages as part of their Love Your Loo campaign:

  1. Have a lined bin near all the loos in your home
  2. Have odour and leak-proof bags nearby e.g. nappy bags or sanitary disposal bags
  3. Bin everything other than the 3Ps: pee, paper, poo
  4. Encourage your family, friends and neighbours to Love Your Loo, as we all have a part to play.

 And Southern Water have worked with the Consumer Council for Water to create the following:

https://www.southernwater.co.uk/the-unflushables

Meanwhile The Rivers Trust has a new campaign- #StopFlushingWipes, and is working with United Utilities to get the message about the impact that wet wipes are having on our rivers environment.

What’s the problem?

In the UK wet wipes improperly flushed down toilets cause  93% of all sewer blockages, these cause pollution in rivers and sewer flooding. Nationally, more than £100 million is spent every year in mitigating both environmental and operational impacts of flushing wipes, including sewer flooding of homes, with costs ultimately passed onto water company customers/bill payers.

In heavy rainfall used wet wipes flushed down the toilet can leave the sewer system and enter rivers through combined sewers overflows. These exist to provide relief to sewer systems and prevent homes from flooding during storms.

Unfortunately, these overflows can cause unpleasant sanitary items, including wet wipes, to be littered along riverbanks.

Another campaign at the moment is focusing on the fat, oil and grease entering our drains. Fat, Oil and Grease (FOG) can block sinks, drainage runs to the plants and sewers.

News articles such as the Sidmouth fatberg: https://www.southwestwater.co.uk/about-us/latest-news/2019-news/devons-largest-ever-fatberg-discovered-in-sidmouth-sewer/ and the London Fatberg: https://www.thameswater.co.uk/be-water-smart/Bin-it/Whats-a-fatberg highlight the issues FOGs cause in our sewers.

Fat, Oil and Grease in a treatment Plant
Ragged Pump

When a treatment plant is not connected to a mains sewer the fat, oil and grease in the plants still cause problems. They can cause blockages, preventing pumping stations from working correctly, but also prevent the treatment plants from performing correctly, and in some cases they blind the diffusers and air arrangements. The FOG then passes forwards and can end up discharging into the water course, causing environmental problems.

So remember, the only things which go down your drains should be the 3 Ps, anything else should be disposed of separately.