Tidworth residents are being urged to bin their wet wipes after a spate of drain and sewer blockages in the town.
Wessex Water has been called to more than 40 sewerage incidents in less than a year in the small area it covers in north Tidworth, with wet wipes a common factor.
Often wet wipes are labelled and marketed as “flushable”, but they don’t break down like conventional toilet paper after going down the U-bend.
Nick Buller, sewerage manager for Wessex Water, said: “We frequently hear from customers who have flushed wipes, often in good faith because they are branded flushable, but have then suffered a blockage.
“As a result they have had their gardens or even their homes flooded with sewage, which can be obviously be hugely disruptive and distressing.
“Our advice is to only ever flush the three Ps – paper, poo and pee – and to keep wet wipes in the bin.”
Wet wipes are not the only unwanted items that have been fished out of Tidworth’s sewer system recently – bandages, plastic bags and even pieces of wood have all been recovered by operators.
Since 2015 Wessex Water has added 460 metres of sewer onto its routine jetting programme in Tidworth to reduce the risk of blockages, with further sealing work planned to reduce the levels of groundwater getting into the system.
Overall, the company resolves more than 13,000 blockages a year on its public sewers with thousands more blockages on customers’ own drains.
It has lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority and Trading Standards, calling for a ban on the word “flushable” on wet wipes. This has been backed by fellow water companies and environmental charities Surfers Against Sewage, Marine Conservation Society, Litter Free Coast and Sea and City2Sea.
And a Wessex Water video called ‘Four hours, four blockages – all caused by wet wipes’ shows how the aftermath of flushed wipes has become a daily problem. The video can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uyKfdhD8WA