The horrors that lie in our waterways

When it comes to making a difference to the environment, it can be challenging. Especially when it tests your regular habits. Recently we looked at items that are commonly flushed into our drains that are harming the environment. It might be because these items are too small to be filtered or they require more energy to be removed during the filtration process. This additional energy increases the carbon footprint of cleaning wastewater. However, not all of these unflushable items make it that far, many create water blockages in waterways across the country. Here are some of the horrors that lie in our waterways…

What happens with water blockages? 

Ever been frustrated that, all of a sudden, your way to work has temporary traffic lights on it because the road is being dug up? It might be causing you to be late for work, but if you’re flushing unflushables in your drains, it could also be you who caused it. 

Water blockages can happen for a number of reasons, and they cause all sorts of issues. The truth is that there are so many across the country, they’re incredibly difficult to keep on top of. Road closures to fix these issues before they become catastrophes is just the beginning. 

When water blockages aren’t dealt with fast enough, and rainfall increases in the area, flooding can happen. This is why it’s so important to reduce the number there are across the country. Blockages will occur when debris, such as leaves, are swept into drains. But the more unflushable items in our waterways, the more blockages, the less time to deal with them all. Did you know, on average, Thames Water deal with 75,000 water blockages each year? 

But what happens if there isn’t much rainfall? There can still be drastic problems. Pipes with increased pressure can lead to them bursting and polluting local areas. It might mean a drop in water pressure for your home, but it could mean drain water leaking directly into our environment. Certainly not in keeping with our aims to protect it! 

How do the unflushables create water blockages? 

You guessed it; masses of unflushables combining together. More and more join one another over time, until one big block forms. You may or may not remember the 250m long fatberg in London that made national news in 2017. Of course, there have been plenty more since then throughout the country. It appears a big news story didn’t have quite the impactful shock it intended to change peoples’ habits.  

Truth be told, the unflushables we looked at last week, are just the tip of the iceberg for unwanted items that are flushed down our drains. You’d be amazed at the items that some people challenge the waterways with. 

Anything from razor blades, to nappies, even cigarette butts and plasters. Mix that with a little floss to tie it all together and you get a solid mound of waste ready to block a variety of drains. It’s why it’s so important that only items that break down go in our waterways. Anything else provides the perfect opportunity for a mass to grow. 

The same way each little eco-friendly action makes a difference to helping fight climate change, every small unflushable that lands itself in our waterways creates an issue. Over time these small issues grow, whether that’s impacting the plumbing in your home, or the wider environment is yet to be determined. All we can do to be safe is make sure that we’re doing our bit to make a positive difference. Start spreading the word on unflushables and prevent a fatberg from growing in your area!

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