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Catchment Management

Leeds Rhinos star Jones-Buchanan tackles sewer blockages with Yorkshire Water team

Jamie Jones Buchanan

Leeds Rhinos star Jamie Jones-Buchanan got a first-hand look at the nasty effects of flushing wet wipes down the toilet after joining members of the Yorkshire Water jetting team in Roundhay.

The forward is more used to tackling men of steel but in north Leeds last week, the 37-year-old had to take on an opponent which contributes to 30,000 blockages each year.

Wet wipes, even so-called ‘flushable’ wipes, don’t break down in the sewer system as they contain plastic which builds up over time and can cause a blockage. If the waste has nowhere else to go it will back up in the sewer, often returning to where it came from, causing internal flooding in customers’ homes.

Keen to help spread the message of the possible disgusting consequences of flushing wipes, Jamie went out with the Yorkshire Water jetting crew to help unblock a sewer.

The team, led by Chris Bradshaw, showed Jamie how they use CCTV to locate the blockages and the jetting team clear the wipes and other objects.

Jamie said: “It was great to go out with the Yorkshire Water team – it was a real eye opener and it was great to see the technology and gadgets they use to help keep the sewers clear. I had no idea that wet wipes, fats, oils and grease can cause such issues in the sewers.

“I know that we must just flush the three ps – pee, poo and paper.”

Yorkshire Water spends £2.4m a year on clearing blockages, with 40% of these caused by wet wipes.

“There is an issue around awareness because people think because wipes are labelled as flushable that they are okay to flush. They do flush, but unfortunately they do cause blockages,” Chris Bradshaw said.

“It was great showing Jamie what we have to do to unblock the sewers. I know he is retiring at the end of the season and our door is open if he fancies a move into jetting!”

To help spread the message, Yorkshire Water has set up a £40,000 community fund which local charities and organisations can apply for. It takes just 10 minutes to fill in the form on the Antiblockage webpage.

For more information about blockages, visit the blockages webpage.

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