People are being urged not to pour the fat from their Christmas turkeys down the sink - amid fears it could cause a massive 'fatberg'.
When cooking oil, fat and grease are poured down sinks they end up cooling in the sewer systems and mixing with wet wipes, cleaning wipes and sanitary products to create so-called fatbergs.
South West Water is urging people to properly dispose of their cooking waste this Christmas - saying the fat from turkeys could fill nearly 3,000 bathtubs.
A medium-sized turkey produces up to three-quarters of a pint of fat.
If each of the almost one million households served by South West Water across Devon and Cornwall poured turkey fat down their sinks, it would see the equivalent of more than 2,800 bathtubs full of grease entering the sewers, amounting to 422,786 litres.
Wastewater director Iain Vosper said: “Don’t let the fat from your festive feast come back and haunt you as a ghost of Christmas past, causing blockages and fatbergs.
“Think about your sink this Christmas time, and don’t dispose of cooking fats, oils and greases down the drain.
“Tens of thousands of litres of waste fat, cooking oil and grease are poured down sinks in the South West each year along with food waste which can build up in pipes.
“These mix with wrongly flushed items such as wet wipes, hygiene wipes, cleaning wipes, cleansing pads and sanitary products, causing blocked sewers, which can lead to flooding in your homes and in the environment.
“Every year we deal with around 8,500 blocked sewers across our region – around one every hour — and these can increase the risk of flooding and damage to customers’ homes and properties.
“So don’t let fat spoil the festivities this Christmas and play your part by only flushing the 3Ps – pee, paper and poo – down the loo, and avoid pouring fats, oils and greases down your sink.”
South West Water serves around two million customers across the South West, and in its region alone more than 200,000 wet wipes find their way into the sewage network each day.
Last year the water company removed more than 450 tonnes of items that should not have been flushed, such as wet wipes, sanitary products and cotton pads, from pumping stations.
In 2019 the company discovered a 210ft (64m) long fatberg blocking the sewer in Sidmouth.