Northumbrian Water is revealing some of the strangest things their sewage teams have found clogged up in sewers since lockdown began six weeks ago.

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The water company is continuing to battle blockages and is warning customers of the devastating impacts that wrongful flushing can have, when toilets are used a bin. 


Wrongly flushed items are a nightmare for everyone as they can cause all sorts of problems inside customers’ homes, to communities and for the environment. 


Sewage teams are always finding eye-opening items that have somehow being flushed down the loo, but the biggest blockage culprit continues to be wet wipes.


Simon Cyhanko, Head of Wastewater Networks at Northumbrian Water, said: "It’s beyond belief some of the weird things our teams uncover in our sewer network and we sometimes wonder what people are thinking?!


“We know accidents can happen and items get flushed by mistake, but sadly, some customers are using their toilet as a bin to flush things that have no place in our network. 


“Although we find lots of different items in our sewers, the main cause of blockages is wet wipes. 


“Wipes and other items may leave your toilet bowl when flushed, but can clog up your plumbing and cause avoidable plumber callout charges. Even biodegradable products don't break down as quickly as toilet paper and can linger in sewer pipes, contributing to blockages.


"Blockages can have heart-breaking consequences, from causing people's homes to be flooded with toilet waste to the environment being polluted. It’s really not nice to see. 


“Customers can help by making one simple change and that’s to not use toilets as a bin. Please put all wipes in the bin and support our campaign to Bin The Wipe.”


Here’s a rundown of some of the strangest things found by Northumbrian Water sewer workers during lockdown: 

  1. A hard-boiled egg – found in County Durham. Anyone for an egg sarnie?
  2. Socks – we get lots of these and usually underwear too! This sock was uncovered in Stockton.
  3. Small tin of unopened peaches – found in South Shields. Peaches and cream poo anyone?   
  4. A cut up bed sheet – found in close proximity to a North East prison. We’re not saying where!
  5. Red pair of tights - found in North Tyneside and not to mention the yellow toy bath, set of drain rods and car trim that we pulled out of the same blockage.
  6. Potatoes – found in County Durham. What’s tat about?
  7. One pink hand towel – found in Stockton. Why?
  8. Toy car – we guess the toilet car wash didn’t go to plan in Middlesbrough?!
  9. A dead flat fish – we’re not sure if a seagull dropped their bait inside the sewage treatment process at our plaice in Sunderland?
  10. One loo freshener and a toy centipede – found in Cambois. We find lots of toilet fresheners so please put them in the bin and we guess the toy creepy crawly fell down the bog by accident. 


Northumbrian Water’s ‘Bin the Wipe’ campaign is encouraging customers not to use their toilets as a bin, after finding around 64% of the 15,600 blockages cleared in 2019 were caused by wet wipes. 


For more information about Northumbrian Water’s Bin the Wipe campaign >>