£2.5m spent cleaning ‘inappropriate items’ from our sewers

Wipes retrieved from the sewerage system.  INCT 30-736-CON
Wipes retrieved from the sewerage system. INCT 30-736-CON

NI Water has revealed what really lurks in East Antrim’s sewers and with everything from cotton buds to baby wipes, it’s not a pretty picture.

Each year, NI Water retrieves millions of waste items from the sewerage network that simply shouldn’t be there – some of the more bizarre items recovered include a car driving shaft, a child’s bicycle, parts of an old fridge, and builders’ mortar spread over 20 metres’ length of sewer.

However, it is mostly everyday items like cotton buds and nappies that cause the real damage. Flushing items that should be binned will result in a blockage and, ultimately, sewer flooding which can have a serious negative impact on our streets, rivers, beaches and coastlines, as well as costing significant sums of money to clean up.

Each year, NI Water spends approximately £2.5 million cleaning up avoidable sewage spills caused by flushing inappropriate items into sewers.

Angela Halpenny, NI Water’s head of Environmental Regulation, said: “Wastewater drains that run from residential properties are only four inches wide and are designed to remove human waste and toilet roll only. Blockages are caused when other rubbish is flushed down the toilet or dumped into the sewers.

“If sanitary waste has been flushed, it can escape, polluting rivers, coastlines and beaches. The advice is simple; bin it, don’t flush it. Working together, we can ensure that our environment stays in a pristine condition that we can all enjoy.”