A CAMPAIGN aimed at protecting homes and the environment by encouraging the proper disposal of used wipes is coming to north west Durham.

Northumbrian Water’s Bin The Wipe drive aims to reduce sewer blockages, which is a frequent cause of waste backing up into homes and businesses, or into the environment.

As wipes do not break up in the same way toilet paper does when flushed it means they can settle or catch in pipes and start or contribute to blockages.

Data from blockages has identified the DH6 9 post code area of Stanley and DH8 8 in Consett as “hot spots”, where wipe flushing is common.

A team of sewer workers is to “investigate” and “educate” customers in those areas about the issue.

The Northern Echo: Water company's drive to prevent people blocking drains with wipes Picture: NORTHUMBRIAN WATERWater company's drive to prevent people blocking drains with wipes Picture: NORTHUMBRIAN WATER

In 2019, 64-per cent of blockages cleared from Northumbrian’s sewer network contained wipes, leading to the Bin The Wipe campaign launch in January 2020.

Read more: Northumbrian Water launches Bin the Wipe campaign in Darlington

It aims to use educational letters and doorstep discussions to encourage householders responsible to change their behaviour.

The team will monitor the area’s sewers and track the flushing of wipes back to the properties from which they were flushed.

Simon Cyhanko, Northumbrian Water’s Head of Wastewater Networks, said: “We know that lots of wipes are being flushed in these areas of Consett and Stanley.

“That’s putting homes, businesses and the environment at risk of sewer flooding.

“That can be horrific.

“So, our Bin The Wipe team are heading into these areas to work with those customers who are doing this.

“We want to help them understand why it’s important to change that behaviour.

“We know that not everyone in these areas will flush wipes, and we thank those who dispose of them properly, in the bin.

“But their homes are no less at risk than those of the people who do flush wipes, because the blockage can build up anywhere in the pipes and cause a problem.

“We would ask all customers in the area to not use their toilets as a bin, even if they think ‘it’s just one little wipe’.

“Those individual wipes can meet lots of others as they pass through the network and add to a blockage.

“It’s a simple change to make.

“All we ask is that people Bin The Wipe.”

More than 60-per cent of blockages found in Northumbrian Water’s sewer networks contain wipes.

The Bin The Wipe campaign aims to protect homes and the environment from sewer flooding caused by these blockages.

The aim is to educate customers about the problems caused by wipes, which do not break down the way toilet paper does. Flushed wipes can catch or settle in sewers and cause blockages.

Using data from sewer clearances, the campaign targets ‘hot spots’ where the flushing of wipes is highest.

Customers in these areas receive an initial letter, explaining what the problem is and that a special Bin The Wipe team of Sewerage Maintenance Operatives (SMOs) will be working in their area.

The letter also explains how people can help, simply by making sure they and their families do not flush wipes down the toilet.

Team members monitor the local sewer network and uses bespoke tools to track the flushing of wipes.

They can narrow down the locations from which they are flushed, often pinpointing individual properties.

Customers in areas where continued flushing is identified are kept up to date with further letters.

These remind people of the problem and explain the actions Northumbrian Water can take if customers continue to flush wipes.

This can include recharging customers for the cost of clearing the blockages they are causing, or even prosecution.

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