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Environment | Waste

Our water treatment plants are under severe pressure

When we pour liquids down the sink or flush things down the toilet we think they will be sorted by our water treatment systems, unfortunately many are not.

If we are all honest we are sure that most of us have dropped something into the toilet or poured something down the sink that we know in our heart of hearts should not go there.

Check the packaging, ask your council or visit your local community tip to check the best way to dispose of nasties.

It’s a bit basic but always remember the three P’s when flushing your toilet, the only things that should go down there are pee, poo and (toilet) paper.

Here are a range of items that should definitely not end up in our water system:

  1. Cooking oil and fat poured down our sinks combine to form hard ‘fatbergs’ which block our sewers.
  2. Wet wipes, cotton wool, cotton buds, dental floss – millions of these items are being flushed down our toilets every day, these can end up on our beaches, clog water treatment plants and stick to the ‘fatbergs’ mentioned above increasing sewer blockages – think of the poor workers who have to clear this waste!! There is a ‘Bag it and bin it, don’t flush it!’ campaign to help decrease the number of disposable items flushed down toilets, please join in.
  3. Even so-called disposable nappies and sanitary towels often do not degrade fully in the treatment plant and can lead to blockages, so it is best to dispose of them by other means.
  4. Medicines – take unused medicines to a pharmacist for safe disposal.
  5. Washing machine and dishwasher detergents can add nutrients to our rivers and lakes inducing environmental problems e.g. algal blooms which depletes oxygen in the water, and can cause death to aquatic animals.
  6. Home beer and wine making waste –  a water treatment plant has to work as hard to treat one pint of beer tipped down the drain as it does to treat all the normal waste produced by one person in 24 hours.

Sewage treatment plants use colonies of live natural micro-organisms to break down pollutants in domestic sewage. Many chemicals found in and around our homes can inhibit or kill these micro-organisms and reduce the efficiency of the sewage disposal. Here are just a few:

  • Motor oil, grease, anti-freeze and brake fluid.
  • Weed-killers, insecticides, fungicides and other gardening chemicals.
  • Bleaches, floor cleaners and disinfectants.
  • Paint, thinners, white spirit, turpentine.
  • Check on the best way to dispose of these products.

​It may take a little longer to dispose of these liquids and solids but think of the cost and environmental benefits to everyone.