A campaign to help protect homes and the environment from sewer flooding is coming to more than 7,000 new households across Washington.
Northumbrian Water’s Bin the Wipe campaign aims to help people understand the problems caused by flushing wet wipes down the toilet.
Wrongly flushed wipes lead to blockages in pipes that can force waste out of the sewer, either into homes through shower trays, toilets, baths and sinks, or out into the environment.
Wipes are the most common item found in blockages cleared by the water company’s teams of sewer workers. Analysis of these blockages allows the company to highlight areas, known as ‘hot spots’, where higher volumes of wipes are being found in the sewer.
The team then moves into these hot spots and, combined with educational letters being sent to customers in the area, they monitor the sewer and track the flushing of wipes through the network. This allows for further letters to be sent and face to face conversations to take place, as the areas where wipes are being flushed are narrowed down, eventually to individual homes.
Two new hot spot areas have been identified in the Washington area.
This month, a team will move into the NE38 7 postcode area in Washington Village and Biddick, which includes around 4,400 households.
This will be followed in the coming weeks by a team working in the NE37 1 area, with a further 2,870 homes being brought into the campaign.
These areas have been identified through analysis of blockages in the sewer, showing high volumes of wipes.
In 2021, the Bin The Wipe team took the campaign to the NE37 2 area, and this saw a 91% reduction in the number of wipes found in the sewer.
Simon Cyhanko, Northumbrian Water’s Head of Wastewater Networks, said: “We have seen some brilliant results thanks to communities working with our Bin The Wipe team to make a really simple small change to their habits. That makes a massive difference to the lives of those people who might otherwise have had sewer flooding in their homes. This includes in areas of Washington where our team has already been, as well as across the rest of the North East.
“We’re really hoping that people in these two new areas of Washington will get on board and really help do the same for their communities.
“We know not everyone in these areas flushes wipes and we would like to thank those people for their good habits. However, we know there are many who do, and it’s really easy for them to help, too.
“Wipes are everywhere, so asking people to stop using them would be futile, so we just ask for one thing – to stop flushing them down the toilet. We also know it can be confusing when manufacturers label their wipes “flushable”, but they don’t actually break up the way toilet paper does, so they can still catch or settle in pipes and start or contribute to blockages that risk really horrific consequences for friends, family and neighbours, as well as the environment.
“Please, don’t use your toilet as a bin. You wouldn’t use your bin as a toilet. Bin the Wipe.”