The HG2 postcode area of Harrogate has been identified as a sewer blockage hotspot by Yorkshire Water with its sewer technicians called out over 185 times in the last two years to unblock them.
Yorkshire Water has identified wet wipes as a major culprit, which are becoming increasingly popular as a luxury toilet roll. It costs the firm approximately £150 to repair each blockage that occurs.
Planks of wood and bricks have also been found in the local sewer system.
As a result, the firm is urging residents in the area to only flush the ‘3Ps’ – poo, pee and paper – down the toilet. It is also door knocking in the area to explain to residents how they can help avoid the problem.
James Harrison, Technical Manager at Yorkshire Water, said: Healthy sewers are vital to avoid pollution incidents that damage the local environment and watercourses. In HG2, we’re noticing a significant increase in the amount of sewer blockages that are impacting on the health of the sewers. To tackle this escalating problem, we plan to communicate with local residents and community groups to make customers aware of what can and cannot be flushed down the toilet or poured down the sink.
The task of keeping the sewers flowing is with the firm’s team of sewer technicians, dubbed ‘sewer crusaders’. They use high pressure water jet sprays and suction vacuums to get rid of blockages to keep the sewers flowing.
Wet wipes can take up to 100 years to disintegrate and when flushed down the toilet their fibres remain in rivers and seas for decades threatening marine life. Alternatives are gel wipes, with the gel applied to toilet paper having the same soothing effect and which has the added benefit of being 100% flushable.
James Harrison added: We understand information from polyester wet wipes manufacturers can be quite confusing as some products say flushable on the packaging. However, we would urge people to dispose of wet wipes in a bathroom bin at all times as although they may flush down the toilet they do not disintegrate like normal toilet paper.
The HG2 area covers Oatlands, Woodlands, Hookstone, Rossett, Pannal Ash, Harlow Hill and Hornbeam Park. There are hundreds of sewers covering this area that carries domestic and commercial waste to the local Harrogate South sewage plant.
Over the next three years, the company will be investing £252 million to improve the quality of the region’s sewer network.