Sheffield has been crowned the number one ‘sewer blockage hotspot’ in Yorkshire– with 9,110 clogged pipes so far this year.
Yorkshire Water’s ‘sewer crusaders’ have found false teeth, space hoppers, and gold jewellery among the unusual items flushed into the region’s 52,500km sewer network.
Wet wipes account for nearly a third of all the blockages, with several tonnes pulled out of sewage plants each weekend.
Yorkshire Water is now launching the ‘Stop it, don’t block it’ campaign to advise people to flush only the 3Ps – pee, poo, and paper.
James Harrison, technical manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “In Sheffield, we’re noticing a significant increase in the amount of sewer blockages related to wet wipes in particular.
“We understand information from manufacturers can be quite confusing as some products say flushable on the packaging; however, we would urge people to flush only ‘the 3Ps’ and to put anything else in the bin.”
Sewer pipes are as narrow as 15cm in some parts of Sheffield, making these areas of the city especially prone to clogging.
Sewer technicians use high-pressure water spray jets to disperse the blockages so raw sewage waste doesn’t flood into people’s homes.
In Yorkshire, there have been a staggering 50,888 blockages so far this year.
Yorkshire Water will be investing £252 million to improve the sewer network over the next five years.
Wet wipes, which are marketed as a necessity for parents with young children, are also being used as make-up removers, home-cleaning cloths, luxury toilet rolls, and for other sanitary purposes.
Their presence has grown in homes around the country and the wipes are showing up in hotels, gyms and offices.
In addition to causing pile-ups in sewage systems, the number of wipes washing up on beaches has more than doubled between 2013 and 2014.