MORE than £10 million has been spent by Ashbourne’s water provider clearing items that block up its network, bosses have announced.
Grease and sanitary products such as nappies, wipes and cotton buds are causing headaches for Severn Trent, which manages the town’s drainage and water supply and has a high-tech treatment works off Mayfield Road.
The company said that, in the last 12 months, contractors have been called out to more than 4,664 blockages in the Derbyshire area, of which three quarters were caused by people misusing the sewer system and figures suggest the situation is getting worse.
The firm’s waste manager Jason Lingard said: “We call this ‘sewer misuse’ and what we mean is people washing fats, oils and greases down the sink which then solidify when they hit the sewers and block them.
“Blockages are also caused by people putting sanitary products such as nappies and wipes down the toilet rather than in the bin.
“It’s easy to assume that the warm grease and fat left over from your Sunday dinner would be ok to dump down the sink, as long as you wash it down with a lot of hot soapy water.
“But the reality is that quite quickly the fat and grease will cool and solidify, building up and blocking the drain or sewer.
“Better to wipe out any greasy pans with a bit of kitchen roll then put it in the bin, or pour large amounts of left over cooking grease into a pot or jar with a lid, or one of the free fat traps that Severn Trent provides to its customers.
“Many customers may not realise that they are responsible for the waste pipe running away from their home up until it either crosses the property boundary or meets with another waste pipe or sewer.
“Unblocking or repairing this section of pipe can be costly, but avoidable, if you’re careful about what you put down your toilet or your sink.
“The drains that take waste water away from your home are only a few inches wide and are only meant to take water, toilet roll and human waste.
“Sewer blockages, if not identified and cleared can lead to sewers backing up and overflowing into people’s homes and gardens. This is probably one of the most horrible things that can happen to your home, and it’s entirely preventable.
“We are spending millions of pounds every year sending teams into sewers with jetting equipment and sometimes even spades to dig out these blockages.”
To find out more about avoiding blockage problems, or to order a free ‘fat trap’ visit the firm’s website at www.stwater.co.uk/fattrap.