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What can you do to help?

image depicting Solidified sewer fat
Solidified sewer fat
Members of the public can help keep the sewerage system in their area flowing by thinking about what material they are putting down the toilet or sink. Putting inappropriate material into the system can cause blockages which lead to flooding or trigger a combined sewer overflow to operate.

South West Water spends over £1 million a year clearing blockages caused by the 'dirty dozen'.

The 'dirty dozen' are fats, oil and grease; food waste; cotton buds; sanitary products; disposable nappies; condoms; plastic bags; bandages and plasters; razor blades; baby wipes; cleaning wipes and disposable toilet brushes and needles and syringes.

Other items that have been removed from sewers after causing a blockage include:

  • Underwear and clothing
  • Fishing rod
  • Bicycle wheel
  • A greenhouse – broken into its component parts and dropped down a manhole
  • Concrete blocks and bricks
  • Toys
  • Drain rods and other tools including spanners
  • Cutlery


It is important to make sure that your home has been plumbed correctly. Misconnections happen when homes or businesses have wrongly connected their plumbing into the surface water system, which eventually discharges into rivers or streams, instead of the public sewerage network to be treated.

This can range from something as simple as a wrongly connected washing machine or dishwasher to something more serious, such as toilet waste or even whole estates feeding into surface water drains.

Misconnections can occur when a house is extended, when people make other home improvements or when a new house is built.

factors affecting bathing water quality

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