How we're tackling the problem

Last reviewed:

Sewer abuse is a problem which we tackle from many angles. We have to be on top of preventing flooding as well as putting a lot of energy into eliminating the causes of these unpleasant events.

We have 108,000km of pipes in our system. That’s equivalent to nearly 10 return trips from London to New York* or just over 3 return trips to Melbourne Australia**. We monitor the networks of pipes so we can find the hot-spots for blockages. Wherever possible this means we can get in there early, flush the pipes and prevent sewage flooding into homes and businesses.

Of course the scale of our network means we can’t do this everywhere, it would not only cost a lot but also cause a huge amount of disruption across our area. It’s simply not feasible or cost-effective.

So we believe that changing the cause of the blockages is important.

Working with wet wipe manufacturers and retailers

We are persuading them to correctly label wet wipes. Because we know from experience that the term ‘flushable’ just isn’t accurate where sewers are concerned.

Product labelling

Any items which are labelled like this are very slow to break down, and contribute to the clogging of pipes. We are also working to influence manufacturers to remove the plastics in the wipes as they are the materials which slow down the degradation and also harm the environment.


We collaborate with other water companies and environmental organisations to raise the awareness of the problems caused by sewer abuse to the environment, birds and wildlife.


Prevention is better than a cure and we campaign and persuade individuals and businesses to think about how their behaviour affects the drains. Ultimately if we can stop the wrong things from getting into the system in the first place, then we can focus our attention and energy on other areas.


We make sure that children know what shouldn’t go down the drain. In our 5 well-equipped classrooms we engage with young people in a fun and instructive way. These interactive sessions link in with the National Curriculum to educate children about water and waste.

*Based on shortest distance at 5,585 km

** Based on shortest route at 16,893 km