Only toilet paper, pee and poo go in the loo

Jim Henderson in his back garden, beside the manhole cover. The sewage flooded the area behind where he is standing.
Jim Henderson in his back garden, beside the manhole cover. The sewage flooded the area behind where he is standing.

Bras, pants, stockings, false teeth and even a snake – these have all clogged up sewerage pipes after being flushed down people’s toilets.

Northumbrian Water is called out on a daily basis to unblock systems around the North East; caused by unsuitable debris being discarded down loos and sinks.

The sewage in the garden in July.

The sewage in the garden in July.

The company wants to raise awareness about what should go down toilets and sinks and what should be binned.

As part of this, the firm is reminding people that ‘only toilet paper, pee and poo go down the loo’. It is encouraging residents to pop nappies, cotton buds, cotton wool, wipes and other bathroom waste into a bin.

It is also urging people to scrape plates into a bin before rinsing them, because grease and fats which are poured down the sink can also have unpleasant consequences.

Between August 2015 and July 2016, the company was informed about 1,860 blockages in Northumberland.

Of this, 405 were caused by wipes, while 233 were caused by fats/oils/greases.

Linzie Pentleton, from Northumbrian Water, said: “We get called out on a daily basis to blockages which have been caused due to what people have put down their toilets/sinks. It is about education. People do see their toilets as bins and they often don’t realise what impact their actions can have on people further along the system.”

Swarland couple Jim and Eileen Henderson know only too well what impact a clogged-up sewerage network can have.

In July this year, a blockage – caused by wipes and writing paper flushed down the loo elsewhere – led to sewage spewing out from the manhole cover in their back garden and flooding part of their lawn, as well as spilling into their neighbour’s garden.

The couple, both in their 70s, don’t know who was responsible for flushing the items down the loo, but on the back of their experience, they have backed Northumbrian Water’s campaign.

Jim said: “The smell was sickening and the sewage spread quickly. It is important to get the message out about what should and shouldn’t go down people’s toilets and sinks.”