Homes in Consett and Stanley 'at risk of flooding' from blocked sewers because of flushed wipes

A blockage found by a member of Northumbrian Water's Bin the Wipe team Credit: Northumbrian Water

People in sewer blockage hotspots in County Durham are being urged to stop flushing wipes.

Northumbrian Water is taking its Bin the Wipe campaign to Consett and Stanley in a bid to reduce sewer blockages that can cause waste to back up into homes and businesses.

The organisation is calling on people to dispose of used wipes properly.

Simon Cyhanko, Northumbrian Water’s head of wastewater networks, said: “We know that lots of wipes are being flushed in these areas of Consett and Stanley.

"That’s putting homes, businesses and the environment at risk of sewer flooding. That can be horrific.

“So, our Bin The Wipe team are heading into these areas to work with those customers who are doing this. We want to help them understand why it’s important to change that behaviour."

A haul of wipes were pulled out of the sewer by a member of the team in another blockage hotspot Credit: Northumbrian Water

Northumbrian Water said wipes do not break up in the same way that toilet paper does when flushed.

This means they can settle or catch in pipes and start or contribute to blockages.

The water firm's data from blockages has identified the DH9 postcode area of Stanley and DH8 in Consett as hotspots where the flushing of wipes is common.

Mr Cyhanko added: “We know that not everyone in these areas will flush wipes, and we thank those who dispose of them properly, in the bin.

"But their homes are no less at risk than those of the people who do flush wipes, because the blockage can build up anywhere in the pipes and cause a problem.

“We would ask all customers in the area to not use their toilets as a bin, even if they think ‘it’s just one little wipe’.

"Those individual wipes can meet lots of others as they pass through the network, and add to a blockage."

Northumbrian Water urges 'don't be a flusher'

A team of sewer workers is going into the area to investigate, and to educate customers about the issue.

In 2019, 64 per cent of the blockages Northumbrian Water cleared from its sewer network contained wipes.

This led to the launch of the Bin The Wipe campaign in January 2020.

Bin The Wipe uses educational letters and doorstep discussions to encourage those who do to change their behaviour.

The team will monitor the area’s sewers and track the flushing of wipes back to the properties from which they were flushed.