‘Jingle bells,stop fatberg on its way’

Last reviewed:
  • Singing sewer team cover Jingle Bells to encourage customers to ‘Bin it – don’t block it’, not put turkey fat and wet wipes into drains
  • Christmas-tradition song recorded in the capital’s historic Fleet sewer near Kings Cross
  • Thames Water engineers were called out to tackle around 1,000 sewer blockages – which cost company £1m every month to clear – last Christmas
  • Eight times every hour a Thames Water customer suffers a blockage caused by items being flushed away or put the down which shouldn’t be

Thames Water’s festive fatberg fighting campaign has a fresh hum about it this year. Its singing sewer team have reworked Jingle Bells to encourage customers across London and the Thames Valley to ‘Bin it – don’t block it’ instead of putting turkey fat and wet wipes into the drains.

The ‘hit’ single was recorded in the capital’s historic Fleet sewer near Kings Cross, and sends a serious message as well as wishing all 15 million of the company’s customers a happy Christmas.

Sewer manager Will Randall, who plays a starring role in the video, said: “Lots of people will be cooking a roast dinner over the holidays and the leftover fat can cause real problems if it goes down the sink and into our drains.

“No one wants sewage backing up through their loo or kitchen sink at any time of year, let alone at Christmas. It’s important everyone does their bit to avoid blockages. We want the air to be filled with the sound of jingle bells not the smell of sewage so as we say at the end of the video, please ‘Bin it – don’t block it!’”

To prevent a blocked sewer, Thames Water’s advice is to leave cooking fat to cool and then pour it into a container with a lid, like a jam jar or empty margarine tub, before putting into the bin. Alternatively, some councils will recycle fat and oil.

The company also insist wipes are a major issue as they don’t break down in sewers like toilet paper – as they’re made from plastic. Following recent campaigning by UK water companies and the Marine Conservation Society, many manufacturers and wipes retailers agreed to review how products currently marketed as “flushable” are labelled.

Will added: “Often people just don’t realise the consequences of putting things other than human waste and toilet paper down their toilets and drains. The sewers are not an abyss for household rubbish.

“Cleaning pots and pans with washing up liquid does not break down fat, oil and grease for good. When it hits the cold sewers, it clings to wet wipes and hardens into these gruesome fatbergs which cause blockages in the pipes.”

Last year Thames Water’s waste engineers were called out around 600 times on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and responded to more than 1,000 call-outs the following week. This year up to 400 crews will be on standby during the festive period ready to clear blockages from the firm’s 68,000 miles of sewers.

The ‘Jingle Smells’ video sees some of Thames Water’s sewermen team up with colleagues from other parts of the business including finance and drinking water networks. The video is available to watch on YouTube here, Twitter and Facebook by searching for Thames Water, and explains that [to the tune of Jingle Bells] “putting your fat down the drain, can ruin Christmas day”.

Previous singing sewermen videos from Thames Water have included ‘Sewermen Style’, a take on the novelty tune Gangnam Style in 2012, and ‘The Twelve Blockages of Christmas’ in 2014.