NI Water appeal to householders as 'wet wipes' threaten to clog up sewers

 Drains can become clogged by materials other than paper being flushed away
Digital staff

NI Water has issued a reminder to householders in Co Derry not to throw wet wipes away in toilets.

The utility is asking residents in the Ballykelly area to be mindful that they flush only appropriate items down the toilet and avoid flushing away wipes.

An NI Water spokesman said that in recent days, Walworth Sewage Pumping Station (WSPS) had thrown up a large number of wipes. There are concerns that sewer flooding can result from a build-up of wipes which could be "extensive and a major inconvenience for the area".

"Wet wipes, by their nature, absorb water and in doing so expand. Mix that with other inappropriate items being dumped down the loo such as cotton wool and sanitary items and it combines to form rags that clump together and block the sewers. You should only flush the three Ps: Pee, Poo and Paper. For anything
else, ‘Bag it and Bin it',"  a spokesman said.

"Many people genuinely don’t realise the damage they are doing to the sewerage system they share with their neighbours. The ‘harmless wipes’ they are flushing are causing havoc for those around them."

'Flo' on her journey through the sewers. Video by NI Water

According to research carried out by Water UK, 93 per cent of the material causing sewer blockages was made up of wipes - including a high proportion of baby wipes - which are not designed to be flushed. Other sanitary items and cotton buds being flushed are also contributing to the problem.

Fewer than one per cent of the domestic waste in the blockages was identified as made up of products which are designed to be flushed, such as toilet paper.

In the last ten years, NI Water has spent over £1.5 billion investing in water and wastewater infrastructure. 

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