We're wondering how the people of Cheltenham are coping without their underwear, because pants have been found at the local sewage works.
Amongst the literally tons of wipes that are dragged out of our sewers each week in Cheltenham, workers at our Hayden sewage works found a pair of size 12 M&S pants which had clearly ended up in the sewers after being flushed down a toilet, somewhere nearby.
In the last year we've been called out to nearly 50,000 blockages in the region, and the situation isn’t getting any better. This problem is costing us millions of pounds per year clearing sanitary products such as nappies, wipes and in this case pants from our network, all of which is unnecessary spending.
Grant Mitchell, community relationship advisor, said “How on earth people have managed to flush underwear down the loo, I don’t know. You wouldn’t think boxer shorts or pants would fit down a toilet, but this is just one example of amazing things we find blocking the sewers.
“Having sewage flooding inside your home due to sewers being blocked is one of the most horrible things that can happen to you, and we don’t want our customers to suffer in this way, as it’s entirely preventable. The drains that take waste water away from your home are only a few inches wide and are only meant to take water, toilet roll and human waste. Remember toilet roll is meant to break down when it gets wet so it washes easily through the system. That’s not the case with things like sanitary products, cleansing wipes or in this case pants which can get tuck in smaller drains.
“These sewer blockages, if not identified and cleared can lead to sewers backing up and overflowing into people’s homes and gardens. And it’s not necessarily the people who put the wrong things down the toilet that are affected. The blockage can happen further down the street, so what you do in your home can be causing a problem for your neighbours. We are spending millions of pounds every year sending teams into sewers with jetting equipment and sometimes even spades to dig out these blockages.
“Many customers may not realise that they are responsible for the waste pipe running away from their home up until it either crosses the property boundary or meets with another waste pipe or sewer. Unblocking or repairing this section of pipe can be costly, but avoidable, if you’re careful about what you put down your toilet or your sink. So get yourself a bin in the bathroom and use that rather than the toilet.”
Remember, the homeowner is responsible for the waste pipe running away from your house up until it either crosses the property boundary or joins with another waste pipe or sewer. If a problem occurs on this section of pipe, you will need to call a plumber. Severn Trent supports WaterSafe who have a list of approved plumbers on their website at www.watersafe.org.uk.
If you do run into problems, either slow drains or a blocked sewer which is Severn Trent’s responsibility you can report it here or by calling 0800 783 4444.