Southern Water is urging residents to stop and think before throwing items such as wet wipes down the toilet after its campaign to clear blocked drains resulted in thousands of tons of rubbish being removed from sewers in Hastings and Bexhill.
The Pain in the Drain campaign extracted more than 6,000 tons of wet wipes and other sewer blockers which had made their way into Southern Water’s sewer network between April and November 2014 - the equivalent weight of 2,000 hippos. Of this, 203 tons were cleared from Bexhill & Hastings Wastewater Treatment Works, which arrived via the sewers after being flushed down toilets.
Paul Kent, Southern Water’s wastewater strategy manager, said many items flushed down the loo can block sewers, causing serious problems – potentially leading to pollutions or flooding of homes and gardens as sewers back up and overflow from manholes. He said: “The use of items such as wet wipes is putting a strain on our sewers - as shown by the huge amount cleared from our works. Unlike toilet roll, 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 don’t biodegrade so can still block pipes further down the line. Flushing them causes a pain in the drain.”