Thames Water spends £18 million a year clearing 75,000 blockages from the sewer network. The vast majority of these – 87% - are caused by a combination of wet wipes, nappies and sanitary products flushed down the loo mixing with cooking oils flushed down sinks.
These lumps harden and often build to enormous sizes, completely blocking parts of the sewer system. Since 2016 in Swindon alone, there have been 2,701 blockages due to fat, grease and wet wipes being disposed of down the loo.
Today, Thames Water’s Sewper Heroes came to Swindon town centre with a fatberg sculpture that will be placed next to the Crossroads Water Fountain (near Metro bank, Miss Selfride and Vodafone, Canal Walk) to remind consumer of the need to ‘Bin It, Don’t Flush It’.
Thames Water is continuing to implement change around the regions’ flushing habits. Research revealed wet wipes, sanitary products and nappies, which often contain non-biodegradable plastics, are put down the loo because people are confused over what is or isn’t flushable. Others freely admitted they flush without thinking and that once it’s past the U-bend and out of sight it’s no longer their problem.
People in the Swindon area say they flush wet wipes/nappies/sanitary products down the toilet rather than putting it in the bin because they find it more convenient (14%) they think they should be flushed (14%) or because they don’t think about it (5%).
62% believe that items labelled as flushable can be flushed down the toilet without a problem.
However, Thames Water are warning that unless consumers change their habits and put all offending items in the bin rather than the loo then the problem of fatbergs beneath our streets will continue.