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Bin It, Not Flush It

03 April 2012 15:52

What really lurks beneath our homes? The answer, in East Belfast, is everything from sanitary items, to cotton buds and baby wipes.

NI Water have recently been in touch with Sammy Douglas MLA regarding the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) at Elmgrove after he raised concerns regarding the sheer volume of sanitary items and baby wipes picked up during a recent clean up of the area.

NI Water’s Graham Millar, explains:

“NI Water is considering placing screens on the CSO at Elmgrove as part of a wider project in the area and we have been approached by Sammy regarding the volume of sanitary items and baby wipes picked up during a recent clean up of the area.
“CSO’s are consented by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and are designed to overflow in order to avoid storm water backing up into homes in the area. They should therefore only be carrying storm water and NOT inappropriate items such as baby wipes and sanitary items.

“There is a common misconception that it is ok to flush wipes, cotton buds and sanitary items when in fact, sewerage systems are not designed to cope with them. The very nature of wipes and sanitary items is to absorb water, not to break down like toilet roll. Therefore, when in the sewer, they absorb, expand, cause blockages and in this case, end up on the banks of rivers.

“Fitting this particular CSO with a screen will prevent those wipes and sanitary items from reaching the river, however, it will not stop them causing blockages further back in the sewer pipeline which can result in out of sewer flooding in the streets.

“We would therefore appeal to the public to help us with the task of keeping our sewers clean by not flushing wipes, sanitary items, cotton buds and nappies.”

Sammy Douglas DUP MLA comments:

“I was delighted to be involved in the Hollow Annual Clean-up at Elmgrove, Beersbridge Road. The Hollow area is a key environmental and recreational area, where the three rivers - the Knock, the Loop and the Connswater converge.

“However I was shocked and disgusted at the volume of sanitary products that were collected from the river banks. We collected over 200 sanitary products and wipes in the space of one hour!

“I would therefore like to appeal to the East Belfast Community not to flush sanitary items or baby wipes and bin them instead.

“NI Water have plans to install a mechanical screen at Linen Gardens which will prevent the bulk of sewage debris entering the river at this point although the point remains we should be doing what we can to ensure they do not enter the system; the advice is simple, bin it, don’t flush it.”

To help the system work properly, we need to use it responsibly. Whilst NI Water has a responsibility for the sewerage system, everyone in Northern Ireland has a duty to dispose of their waste appropriately.

You can view first hand the damage inappropriate items can do to a sewer by visiting

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