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NI Water supporting Unblocktober and flushing out bad habits!

03 October 2023 14:16

 | NI Water News

NI Water are supporting Unblocktober: a month-long national campaign to improve the health of our drains, sewers, rivers and seas. By taking on blockages and ‘flushing’ out the bad habits of flushing anything but the 3 P’s- Pee, Poo and Paper.

NI Water’s Head of Environmental Regulation Angela Halpenny explains: “We are delighted to support Unblocktober awareness month. NI Water is constantly managing a build-up of wet wipes, cotton buds and sanitary products in our sewers. These clump together to form a ball of ‘rags’ causing blockages, damage to equipment and out of sewer flooding.  NI Water’s message is very simple- ‘only flush the 3, Paper, Poo and Pee. There are more than 1,000 wastewater treatment works across Northern Ireland disposing of about 320 million litres of wastewater each day. The vast majority - 93% - of sewer blockages are caused by wet wipes.

“It is well reported that we are all in the midst of a global climate crisis and we all have a part to play in protecting our natural environment as well as our essential services, including wastewater.  I appeal to everyone to stop and think about your actions - if it’s not one of the 3Ps then it’s going to block your wastewater system so please choose to Bag It and Bin It instead.

 We have all seen the awful effects of an overflowing manhole in the street or worse, an overflowing toilet in a home. In the last ten years, we have spent over £1.5 billion in water and wastewater infrastructure, but no amount of investment will completely stop blocked pipes if people continue to flush wipes, sanitary items and cotton buds down the toilet.”

If you don’t want the ‘sewage scaries’, check out the bathroom checklist of ‘never flush’ items below:

  • all wipes (baby, personal cleansing, toilet and household cleaning)
  • sanitary items (sanitary towels, tampons, liners, applicators and backing strips
  • cotton wool, cotton buds, disposable nappies and nappy liners
  • condoms, incontinence pads, colostomy bags, used bandages and contact lenses

According to research carried out by Water UK, 93% of the material causing sewer blockages was made up of wipes - including a high proportion of baby wipes - which are not designed to be flushed. Less than 1% of the domestic waste in the blockages was identified as made up of products which are designed to be flushed, such as toilet paper.* 

Unblocktober is a great opportunity for us to help share more information about what we can and can’t flush and how non-flushable items, such as wet wipes and sanitary towels, are polluting our rivers and seas.


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