More than 40,000 sewer blockages cost Scottish Water

£7million last year – with 600 in Dumfries alone


More than 40,000 blockages in Scotland’s drains and sewer network last year were attended by Scottish Water, and new figures show that approximately 80% are caused by people putting the wrong things down their sinks and toilets.

Dumfries has been selected as a pilot area where Scottish Water is urging customers to help prevent blocked drains and sewers with the launch of the second phase of a campaign to highlight the impact of these bad habits.

The town was identified as an area with a high number of blocked drains and sewers where Scottish Water’s sewer response teams are currently responding to an average of 600 sewer blockages every year. 

Cooking fat, oils and grease coupled with bathroom waste such as cotton buds, nappies and baby wipes create a perfect storm of solidified fat and material that can’t break down easily like toilet paper and collects in large clumps beneath Scotland’s streets. These blockages create costs of over £7million a year for the publicly owned utility firm.

This leads to the misery of flooding of thousands of properties across Scotland, leaving householders and communities with the hassle and expense of repairing damaged property and sometimes resulting in pollution to local rivers and burns.

On 17th of February a seven week long series of national TV and radio adverts, backed by the regional campaign in Dumfries and one in Stirling, will highlight easy ways householders can play a part in keeping the water cycle running by disposing of kitchen and bathroom waste responsibly and by saving water.

In Dumfries, bus stop adverts will feature messages about how to properly dispose of wipes, fats, oil and grease. We will also be working with Dumfries and Galloway Council to promote these messages through their communications channels and an education programme in local primary schools.

In addition, we will be issuing leaflets at known blockage hotspots and will have Scottish Water information points in Tesco Dumfries at Cuckoo Bridge Retail Park on the 19th and 20th of March.

Bill Elliot, Scottish Water’s Regional Communities Manager for Dumfries and Galloway, said: “The waste water drain which runs from your house to the public sewer is usually only about four inches wide – less than the diameter of a DVD. 

“This drain is designed to take only used water from sinks, showers and baths and pee, poo and toilet paper from the toilet. Scottish Water believes that the best way to tackle blocked drains and sewer flooding is to work with our customers in Dumfries to prevent blockages that can clog up the cycle in the first place. 

“We are also running a new TV advert which will encourage everyone to turn off the tap while they are brushing their teeth. Running a tap can use between two and 26 litres of water a minute.

“Although Scotland has plentiful resources of raw water, the treatment and distribution of water is very energy intensive and heating water in the home counts for a sizeable share of energy use. By using less water you can save money so it makes good sense for our customers to use water wisely.”

To see Scottish Water’s campaign TV adverts, visit Scottish Water’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/scottishwaterfilm.

Customers can learn more about what they can do to keep the cycle running, 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


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