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Anglian Water is asking people not to put unflushables down toilets after repeated blockages in Fens villages

Anglian Water is asking residents not to put unflushables down toilets following repeated blockages in three Fenland villages.

Customers in and around Outwell, Upwell and Emneth are being urged to ‘keep it clear’

after numerous blockages have caused flooding to nearby properties.

Anglian Water wants residents to think about what they flush down the loo to stop blockages like this.
Anglian Water wants residents to think about what they flush down the loo to stop blockages like this.

The pump which serves the three villages has become repeatedly clogged in recent months thanks to items such as wet wipes, sanitary products including pads and other items being flushed down the pan.

It means repairs have had to be carried out at the pumping station in Emneth which serves the 7,500 homes in the three villages and residents living close to the site have faced flooding issues.

The water company is now urging people not to use their toilet as a bin and to think before they flush to avoid blockages becoming a costly problem for customers’ own private sewer pipes and to avoid the horrible flooding that can occur as a result.

Anglian Water, which spends around £19 million a year keeping the sewers clear of blockages caused by wipes, fats and other culprits, has written to local parish councils asking them to raise awareness of the issues in their communities.

Posts have also been made to local community Facebook pages reminding residents of the problems caused by inappropriate items being flushed down loos.

Wipes and other unflushable items cause blockages which can result in devastating flooding to homes, gardens and the environment.

With over 40,000 blockages a year – equating to one every 15 minutes – this money could ultimately be better spent elsewhere across the business to improve infrastructure or reduce customer bills.

Collette Parker, 'Keep It Clear' community and outreach manager for Anglian Water said: “Wipes and sanitary products should never be flushed down the toilet as they stop our systems from doing their vital job. We’ve spent a significant amount of time, money and staff resources on clearing out local pumps in the Outwell, Upwell and Emneth areas after recent blockages caused a number of houses to flood with waste water which could all have been avoided with correct disposals of these items.

“We would encourage customers to only ever flush the 3Ps down their toilet – pee, poo and paper – to ensure blockages don’t occur. Our sewers need to be able to flow freely and work at maximum capacity, especially in periods of high rainfall.”

Anglian Water’s ‘Keep It Clear’ programme focuses on this growing issue and last year saw a 24 per cent reduction in blockages caused by unflushables, however the problem continues to cost the water industry over £88million a year.

“What is worrying to us is that 80 per cent of all sewer blockages are completely avoidable and caused by items that should be put into the bin. For decades, people have been putting food scraps, fat, oil and grease down the sink and wipes, period care products, cotton buds, nappies and much more down the loo. These items quickly mix with other sewer debris to create a blockage known as a fatberg which are costly to put right, and potentially devastating for wildlife and our local waterways and seas,” Collette continued."

Moist toilet paper, which has become increasingly popular in recent times, can also prove a problem, with many of the brands saying they are OK to flush, actually not being so.

Anglian Water was one of the firms that worked on the 'Fine to Flush' scheme, which has given certain firms' products the greenlight to be flushed. These products are clearly marked with the 'Fine to Flush' logo.

Those that say they can be put down the loo, but don't have the logo can cause issues as they do not break down fast enough to go into the sewerage system.

Collette said: "We understand that people sometimes prefer a moist toilet paper, but we would urge them to look at the products they are buying and only use those with the logo. All others should be binned, along with nappies, baby wipes and sanitary products."

She added that Anglian Water is looking to attend local events to help raise awareness of the issues.

She said: "It is not a case of pointing the finger. It has just been easier to identify where the problem is coming from at this particular pumping station because it only serves the 7,500 homes in those three villages.

"We want to get the message out there and educate people of the problems flushing the wrong items down the loo and cause."

Customers are reminded to contact Anglian Water on 08457 145 145 immediately if they think they have a problem. For more information, tips and tricks on how to help prevent future blockages, visit keepitclear.anglianwater.co.uk/.

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