More than 40,000 sewer blockages cost Scottish Water £7 million last year

A campaign focused on reducing the number of blockages in Scotland’s drains and sewers and helping householders save money on their energy bills is being stepped up.

Scottish Water is this week launching the third phase of its national awareness raising initiative highlighting the costly impact of what can happen when the wrong items are put down toilets and sinks.

The public utility aims to reduce the amount of blockages caused by liquids and materials such as cooking fat, oils, grease, nappies, cotton buds and wipes.

These items combine to produce a mass of solidified fat and material which in turn can clog up pipes. This can sometimes lead to flooding of homes and gardens and pollution of rivers and burns.

Last year, Scottish Water attended more than 40,000 blockages in drains and sewers – around 80% were caused by such items being put down sinks or toilets.

The first phase of the campaign was launched in late 2013 and early indications are that there has been a reduction in blockages. However, to avoid complacency the third phase, which includes television, radio and social media advertising, continues to bring the message to as wide an audience as possible across Scotland.

This phase will also continue to highlight easy ways householders can save water in the home and it includes our seasonal message to encourage everyone to make sure that they have taken steps to prepare their property for winter.

Chris Wallace, Director of Communications, Scottish Water, said:

“Blockages in the sewer network are not only costly to Scottish Water – they can lead to real distress when flooding occurs.

“The waste water drain which runs from your house to the public sewer is usually only about four inches wide, which is less than the diameter of a DVD.

“This drain is designed to take only the used water from sinks, showers and baths and pee, poo and toilet paper from the toilet. Typically, the drain which runs from a house to the public sewer will be about four inches wide – less than the diameter of a DVD. So this initiative is a great way of working with customers to prevent blockages from happening in the first place.

“We are also encouraging everyone to think about ways of saving water to help reduce household costs.

“Although Scotland has plentiful resources of raw water, the treatment and distribution of water is very energy intensive and the heating of water counts for a sizeable share of energy use. Research by the Department for Energy and Climate Change shows that 18% of domestic energy is used for heating water.

“So one of our adverts encourages everyone to turn off the tap while they are brushing their teeth. This water comes straight out of the tap and goes down the plughole and running a tap can use between two and 26 litres of water per minute. By using less water you can save money – and with high energy prices it makes good sense for Scots to use water wisely.”

“A new addition to this phase is our advert to encourage everyone to get prepared and follow our winter code to heat and insulate their home or business now to help protect against frozen or burst pipes in colder, winter weather. Last winter was mild with very little in the way of extreme temperatures, snow and ice, and after a quiet and warm summer, it would be a mistake for us to be lulled into thinking we may be in line for another mild winter. Over the last five years the winter season has been very volatile, going between very cold and very mild conditions, and it is important we take these sensible and simple actions to protect our homes and businesses against the elements.”

To see Scottish Water’s campaign TV adverts, visit Scottish Water’s YouTube channel at .

Customers can learn more about what they can do to help keep the cycle running, including simple ways to use water wisely and what should not be flushed down toilets or poured down sinks and how they can save their drains, protect their homes, their neighbours’ homes and the local environment at www.scottishwater.co.uk/cycle.

Customers can learn more about our winter code and how to prepare their property for winter at www.scottishwater.co.uk/winter

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