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Catchment Management

Christmas dinner sewer blockage warning as 2,500 sewers suffer in December

Yorkshire Water is urging families not to pour their festive cooking juice down the kitchen sink this Christmas to help protect the sewers from Christmas dinners.

The fats, oils and greases (FOGs) from meat and gravies can often stick together in narrow sewers and cause ‘fatbergs’ which block them up. As such, advice is to instead pour cooking juices into a jam jar and then when full dispose of in the bin.

The firm has calculated that the month of December in the last two years has resulted in over 2,500 sewer blockages that it’s sewer technicians have had to fix. Of these, around 10 per cent are caused by festive fats, oils and greases poured down the sink.

In the worst-case scenario these fatbergs can cause raw sewage waste to back up into people’s homes and cause internal flooding.

The firm is also urging customers this Christmas to only flush the ‘3Ps’ – poo, pee and paper - down the toilet. And is installing 8,000 devices to help map its sewer network and identify weak spots as well as setting a target to slash sewage flooding incidents affecting people’s homes by 70 per cent.

Lindsay Page, waste water manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “Fats, oils and greases don’t just clog up your arteries, they clog up the sewers serving communities too. Our message is very simple this Christmas. We’re asking people to put their sewer on a low-fat diet and think twice before they pour fat, oil and grease down the sink or through the dishwasher. Moving forward, we’re also looking to predict and prevent sewer blockages from occurring and fix them as quickly as possible when they do.”

The task of keeping the sewers flowing is with the firm's team of over 450 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.

Yorkshire Water has also identified wet wipes as a major fatberg culprit, which are becoming increasingly popular as a luxury toilet roll. Around 20 per cent of all sewer blockages that occur are caused by wet wipes which do not biodegrade like normal toilet paper.

Yorkshire Water’s ‘Be a Binner’ campaign aims to highlight the significant amount of blockages it has to fix and to make customers aware of what items shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet.

The firm spends around £2.4m a year fixing blocked sewers and up to 2020 will be investing a total of £252 million to improve the quality of the region’s sewer network.

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