United Utilities, UK’s largest listed water company serving the North West, has been pushing forward an information drive on water conservation, guiding consumers to save water effectively by being mindful of how they use water and wastewater services.
United Utilities published a guide online for consumers regarding what materials should not go down the drain. Despite living in a ‘disposable’ age, the company stated that thinking before flushing is a vital step towards maintaining a good working condition for the UK’s sewerage system.
Every year, 1,000 homes and about 6,000 gardens get flooded in the North West. Millions of pounds that should have been allocated to improving the sewerage system get spent on cleaning sewers and drain across the UK. The culprit is typically things like cotton wool, wet wipes, cotton buds, diapers, and dental floss that are flushed away without a care.
The firm reminded people that nappies and wet wipes, contrary to popular belief, do not dissolve down the drain. Instead, these items clump together and eventually damage the sewers. Several people have unfortunately experienced flooding due to clogged drains filled with such wastes.
Worse than this, wastes flushed hastily in drains and sewers can end up in beaches and rivers across the UK and poses a hazard to the ecosystem. At a time when the UK aims to achieve its ambitious goals and sustainable recovery, issues like blocked sewers and irresponsible waste disposal should also be on top of people’s eco-living lists.
The water company encourages people to stop and think about what they are flushing and if that item will negatively affect the sewers and drains. It also suggested placing a waste bin inside bathrooms. Furthermore, the firm reminded consumers that the three P’s rule should be remembered when flushing: pee, poo, and paper only.
Another guideline regarding kitchen items was published by United Utilities stating that pouring fats and cooking oil down the drain accumulates on the pipes and causes sewer blockage and flooding.
FOG or fats, oil, and grease can build up in the pipes and form what is called a ‘fatberg’. This substance is a solidified mass of oils, fats, and other stuff that are not flushable. These things clog up the main pipes of the sewerage system located underneath the streets.
There are around 25,000 sewer blockages every year across the North West. These damaging incidents could cause flooding of untreated sewage to homes, streets, and gardens. The harmful sewage could end up getting dumped in the seas and rivers, which could have easily been prevented if FOG and other ‘unflushable’ items are disposed of properly.
Again, United Utilities calls on people to think before pouring something into the drain. People can help clean up drains and sewers by merely being mindful of what gets dumped, further preventing blockages and flooding.
The water company listed suggestions on what to take note of before pouring anything into the drain. Firstly, the oil or fat can be cooled after cooking and then scraped into bins. Even the smallest amount of FOG can create more significant issues later. Secondly, any leftover food on plates or pots should be dumped into the drain. Composting them or feeding to birds would be a better option. Lastly, use a strainer on the sink to catch food bits and pieces.
The water company also released an infographic called The Flush Files, detailing some of the figures related to sewerage systems. Around 71% of North West residents have admitted to flushing items down the toilet that shouldn’t have been flushed. In Lancashire, 1 in 16 have flushed jewellery, while 1 in 10 Liverpudlians swilled food they pretended to eat.
Baby wipes were flushed down the loo by 1 in 3 people at least once a week. More unusual and grisly yet is the fact that 70,520 people flushed deceased pets down the toilet, and these animals weren’t fish.
In terms of age, the 16-24 year-olds are likely to have flushed an ‘unflushable’ item in someone else’s toilet.