When people flush wipes down the toilet, they can settle or catch in the sewer, causing or contributing to blockages that can force waste back into homes or out into the environment.
Bin the Wipe, launched by Northumbrian Water in 2020, has seen huge reductions in the number of wipes found in the sewers in areas where the campaign has operated. In some locations, this figure has been as high as 91%.
This has seen the Bin the Wipe message recognised and adopted nationally and now the campaign is set to have a focus on the Seaham area.
Customers in more than 7,000 homes in the SR7 8 postcode and surrounding areas will this week be receiving letters explaining what the problem is and how to help, which is as simple as not flushing wipes down the loo.
Specialist sewer teams will then work in the area, monitoring the network and using tools that can track where wipes are being flushed from.
Simon Cyhanko, Northumbrian Water’s Head of Wastewater Networks, said: “The blockages caused by wipes can have horrendous consequences, sometimes forcing sewage back into homes, where it can come up through plug holes or toilets.
“We are going into this area of Seaham because we know the numbers of wipes being flushed are high and it’s clogging up the sewers, putting homes and the environment at risk.
“Our hope is that when customers receive the letter, they will understand the problem and, if they are people who normally flush wipes, they will make a simple change and start binning them instead.
“If wipes flushing continues, we will follow up with further messages as we narrow down the areas where this is happening and, if it still doesn’t stop, there is a good chance that our teams will be knocking on the doors of the people doing it and having conversations about the problem.
“For persistent wipes flushers, especially those where we have told them about the problem and asked them to stop, we can recharge the cost of clearing blockages. Ultimately, we can prosecute, but our sincere hope is that we can make a huge difference through educating people, not by having to take such actions.
“We know that many customers, including some who live in these areas, do not flush wipes, and we thank them for their good habits.
“All we ask is please, Bin the Wipe.”
People can find out more about Northumbrian Water’s Bin the Wipe campaign at www.nwl.co.uk/binthewipe