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Home / Cardiff and it's Bay / Home and School / The serious damage caused by flushing wet wipes down the toilet
wipes causing blockage

The serious damage caused by flushing wet wipes down the toilet

Wet wipes might appear to be a convenient cleaning product but they could be costing us all millions of pounds every year.

Across the UK, wet wipes wrongly-labelled “flushable” are thought to be responsible for about 93% of sewage blockages in the UK.

Welsh Water alone estimates it tackles about 2,000 blockages every month, at a cost of about £7 milllion annuallly.

Staff from Welsh Water recently discovered a blockage in Cardiff and removed 10 bin bags full of wet wipes.

The blocked mass was combined with fat, oil and grease in the Riverside area of the city and took a worker several hours to clear.

Fortunately, the blockage hadn’t caused any nearby houses to be flooded with sewage.

Wet wipes removed from drain
The blockage in Riverside where 10 bin bags worth of wet wipes were cleared
(Image: Welsh Water)

The company is now renewing their warning to homeowners about the impact of flushing wipes down the toilet.

Imogen Brown, Welsh Water’s head of wastewater networks, said: “The truth is, just a single wet wipe is enough to cause a blockage in your sewer pipe and risks causing catastrophic flooding in your home – causing significant distress and cost.

“While the majority of people do the right thing and dispose of wipes in the bin, there are still some that are unknowingly risking their family homes.

“This incident is a stark reminder that only the three ‘Ps’ should be going into your toilet – pee, poo and (toilet) paper – and everything else should either be recycled or put in your bin.”

The water industry body, Water UK, recently produced a report which found that unflushable wipes caused about 93% of the material causing sewer blockages in the UK.

Wet wipes causing blockage
Welsh Water said they tackles about 2,000 blockages every month
(Image: Welsh Water)

These wipes – which included a high proportion of baby wipes – are not designed to be flushed but are often wrongly labelled “flushable”.

Less than one percent of the domestic waste in the blockages was identified as made up of products which are designed to be flushed, such as toilet paper.

Water UK’s director of corporate affairs, Rae Stewart, said: “This study proves that flushing wipes down the toilet is a major cause of sewer blockages, and that means it’s a problem we can all do something about.

“Water companies spend billions of pounds every year making our water and sewerage services world class, but our sewerage system is just not designed to handle things like baby wipes which don’t break down in water.

“The good news is that by taking action we can stop the horror people face when their homes are flooded with raw sewage.”

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