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Campaign launched to keep fats and wipes out of Cambridge sewers

Monday, October 12, 2015
show (L to R) 'Genius' Georgina (Mad Science), Ceri Williams (Cambridge Water Recycling Centre manager) and Milton Parish councillor Jane Coston launching the Keep It Clear campaign

Cambridge residents are being urged to play their part in keeping the city’s pipes clear.

Fats poured down drains and wipes flushed down toilets are causing a big problem in the city and the surrounding villages. Along with other unflushable items like cotton buds and sanitary products these build up inside sewer pipes reducing flow and causing blockages which can lead to sewage spills.

A campaign to highlight the issue to local residents will be launched at an open day at Cambridge Water Recycling Centre on Saturday (Oct 10). The day will see local residents given guided tours of the works and family entertainment provided by the educational performers Mad Science.

This video shows what we saw when we pointed a timelapse camera at the waste pipes at our Cambridge Water Recycling Centre for six days. Look at all those wipes coming from the sewers!

Over the coming months the campaign team will be attending community events, writing to thousands of residents and running a poster campaign. There will also be adverts on local radio stations and ad-bikes will be appearing in the city to help spread the word.

Over the past three years there have been an average of 408 blockages per year in the city – more than one a day. More than 50 households a year in the city suffer from sewage flooding outside their properties caused by blocked pipes.

One of the worst affected areas is Ditton Lane and the surrounding streets. Anglian Water technicians are called to this area to unblock pipes once a fortnight on average.

Staff at Cambridge Water Recycling Centre remove around 5 tonnes of unflushable waste from the works’ inlet pipes every week.

Rachel Dyson, from Anglian Water’s Keep It Clear campaign, said: “Blocked pipes often lead to sewage spills and these can cause misery for nearby residents as well as harming the environment.

“In recent years we have seen more and more blockages caused by fats and wipes – but these things should not be going down our sinks and toilets. We hope that by raising awareness of the problems these unflushable items cause we will encourage people to think before they flush.

“Cambridge is a historic city with often narrow streets and deep sewers, this makes the job of maintaining the network even harder and more disruptive to traffic. If we all play our part we can help keep the system clear, reduce sewage spills and keep water bills down.”

Cllr Peter Roberts, Executive Councillor for Environment and Waste, said: “As householders, we all have duty of care to dispose of our waste in a proper manner.

“Baby and toilet wipes are safest to be placed in black bins. Cooking oil and fats can be taken for recycling to Householders Recycling Centres. Small amounts of fats can be wiped off with a kitchen towel and placed in green bins.”



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