Coronavirus: Urgent plea not to flush away toilet roll alternatives as sewers blocked

Alternatives to toilet roll, like wet wipes and newspapers, are blocking sewers across the North East in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday, 20th March 2020, 3:19 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd March 2020, 4:27 pm

The toilet paper shelves in supermarkets across the country stand bare and now those unable to purchase loo rolls are turning to other alternatives.

But Northumbrian Water is tackling an increasing numbers of sewers which are clogged up by flushed toilet roll alternatives.

And the North East company is warning customers not to use their toilet as a bin.

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A stock picture of toilet roll.

Disgusting pictures show the consequences of flushing the wrong items down the region’s toilets.

The water company understands anyone affected by the shortage of toilet paper on the shelves of shops is only improvising by using alternatives such as wipes, kitchen roll and newspapers, but warns of the devastating impact to the environment and customer homes.

Simon Cyhanko, head of Wastewater Networks, said: "Wet wipes and toilet roll alternatives, including kitchen roll and newspapers, are the main causes of blockages in our network.

"We understand some people affected by the limited toilet roll availability may have no choice but to use alternative products, but we really need our customers' help by making one small change - and that's to put wipes and any alternatives in the bin.

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"Blockages can have devastating consequences, from causing people's homes to be flooded with toilet waste to the environment being polluted, but by binning the wipe and toilet roll alternatives you can help make a massive difference.

"No one wants to see harm to the environment and to innocent wildlife, or homes flooded with sewage, which isn't a pleasant experience at any time and especially now, if vulnerable people need to self-isolate because of COVID-19.

"Wipes and alternatives, may leave your toilet bowl when flushed, but can clog up your plumbing and cause avoidable plumber callout charges. Even biodegradable products often don't break down as quickly as toilet paper and can linger in sewer pipes, contributing to blockages.

"If customers are going to use any sort of wipe or toilet roll alternative, then please bin them. Toilets are not a bin."

Northumbrian Water found around 64% of the 15,600 blockages cleared in 2019 were caused by wet wipes.