Thames Water is reporting a surge in sewer blockages of nearly 20 percent since the virus lockdown started.

With many shoppers seemingly bulk-buying toilet rolls, others caught short of a twin-ply are turning to seemingly harmless alternatives such as wet wipes, tissues, kitchen roll and even newspapers.

But these unflushables – which also include nappies, sanitary products and cotton buds – don’t break down like toilet paper, causing blockages that can lead to flooding and pollution. They can also combine with fats, oils and grease to create fatbergs.

Stephen Sanderson, Thames Water area network manager, said that “Wipes and things like kitchen roll if used instead of toilet paper can’t go down the loo. As nasty as it sounds, if people do use them as a last resort they need to be put in a bin and disposed of safely.”

Last week, a huge clump of wet wipes and other ‘unflushables’ as heavy as a rottweiler was dragged from a Thames Water sewer. Other unusual items found in sewers and sewage works having presumably been flushed down the loo in recent years include a toy car, a screwdriver and even a shotgun.

40kg “rag” dragged out of a sewer last week (c) Thames Water

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3 comments on “Lockdown side effects – toilet paper shortage leads to surge in blocked sewers
  1. Maurice Reed says:

    How do you get a shotgun round the U bend??? 😁

  2. Dave says:

    Maybe it just ‘blasted’ it’s way through!

  3. MilesT says:

    Presumably some of the larger/metallic items went through street drains or runoff drains rather than sewage pipes from toilets

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