Survey finds people risking blockages by using toilets and drains as bins

A bucket of wet wipes removed from a Yorkshire Water sewer


Yorkshire Water is urging customers in Doncaster, Pontefract and Hull to ‘bin it, don’t block it’ after a survey found some people are using their toilets and drains to dispose of items that shouldn’t enter the sewer, increasing the risk of localised blockages.

The utility company surveyed 348 people in the blockage hotspot areas to understand how people disposed of wet wipes, cotton buds, nappies, sanitary towels and tampons, dental floss, tissues and cooking oils.

It found 32% of people surveyed in Hull, 29% in Pontefract and 24% in Doncaster are flushing or pouring some of the items, which can cause blockages within the sewer network, down their toilets and drains.

Mark Hammond, head of customer field services at Yorkshire Water, said: “We know from our data that some areas of Doncaster, Hull and Pontefract are hotspots for blockages, which are often caused by people disposing of items into the sewer incorrectly. Items such as fats, wet wipes and sanitary products don’t break down in the sewer and can join together to form significant blockages in our network.

“To reduce the likelihood of blockages locally we’re urging people to bin any wet wipes, sanitary products, nappies and cooking oils rather than flushing or pouring them into our network.

“Blockages can lead to people being unable to use their toilet due to restricted flows in the network, sewage flooding in homes, sewage escapes into the local environment or ultimately pollution to local watercourses. We spend millions of pounds every year identifying and removing blockages caused by unflushables, fats and foreign objects. By making a small change and binning these items our customers can help us prevent blockages before they become a problem.”