Water companies have issued further warnings after a dramatic rise in call-outs to sewer flooding and blockages due to the use of “toilet roll substitutes”.
Severn Trent Water said it had received 3,000 reports of sewer blockages in a fortnight – mainly due to kitchen roll.
The company described its workload as “much busier than usual”.
Scottish Water also said it had seen a high number of sewage blockages – recording 1,343 between March 16 and March 30.
Garry Kirkwood, Scottish Water’s sewer response manager, said: “This can be an extremely distressing experience for people and cause significant damage to property.
“We are calling for the support of our customers to do the right thing and not contribute to avoidable sewer chokes.”
Welsh Water reiterated the importance of not flushing wet wipes or kitchen roll if they are affected due to the shortage of toilet paper.
Steve Wilson, Welsh Water’s managing director of wastewater, said: “While we encourage everyone to practise good hygiene to protect against coronavirus, wet wipes and kitchen roll can be hugely damaging to our sewers.”
Thames Water said their engineers had removed three huge blockages from the inlet filter screens at Beddington sewage works in Croydon in just three weeks.
We understand the need for toilet paper alternatives at the moment, but please 🙏 help us by putting them in the bin, not down the loo.— Thames Water (@thameswater) April 2, 2020
3 months worth of "unflushables" has built-up in just three weeks at our sewage works in #Croydon - https://t.co/wI9DxhIxgE pic.twitter.com/aSehZAv2Hq
Adrian Wallis, Beddington sewage works manager, said: “Normally we only need to jet wash the inlet screens every two to three months. Last month alone we did it three times.
Southern Water, Northumbrian Water and Northern Ireland Water have also recently issued pleas to residents to only flush toilet paper.
Speaking of the rise in call-outs, the sewer blockages lead at Severn Trent Water, Grant Mitchell, said: “We know just how worrying it is for everyone at the moment and we want to reassure our customers that we’re working really hard to keep our essential service running.
“In the last two weeks we’ve dealt with over 3,000 reports of sewer flooding or sewer blockages in our area which is much busier than normal. And we’re seeing more and more blockages caused by kitchen roll and wipes.
“We know that some people are having to resort to using a whole manner of things to substitute for toilet roll at the moment, but a sewer blockage is the last thing that anyone needs right now.
“So we wanted to let everyone know that kitchen roll and wipes are not designed to break down like loo roll is so please remember to bin them otherwise you could end up blocking your sewer pipes.”
Mr Mitchell added: “On top of doing one of the most mucky jobs out there, our teams are getting asked why they’re out and about a lot at the moment, but we want to reassure everyone they are only doing work that is essential.
“If more and more sewers need unblocking, they need to be out more, so please be understanding, as no-one really wants to dig out poo, kitchen roll and wipes.
“But all of this can easily be avoided, so if you do need to use something other than toilet roll, just remember to pop it in the bin, and not the toilet.”