Kettering is being targeted as part of Anglian Water’s approach to tackle the thousands of sewer blockages and flooding caused by people putting the wrong things down sinks and toilets.

More than half the blockages across the country are caused by people not disposing of wipes and cooking fats properly. Now Anglian Water is urging locals to take action to reduce the number.

Looking after the ‘underground arteries’ by keeping them clear means when there are severe storms, the sewers are able to flow freely and work at maximum capacity.

On Thursday (18th September), as part of its ‘Keep It Clear’ campaign, Anglian Water is at Newlands Shopping Centre with a striking 3D street art display to remind students of the mess wipes, cooking fats and other unflushable items, make of the town’s vital sewer network.

More than half of the 30,000 sewer blockages Anglian Water has to clear each year are avoidable, caused by wipes and cooking fats being wrongly placed in the sewers. Anglian Water spends around £7 million a year just to clear these and other culprits, which can result in devastating flooding to homes, gardens and the environment otherwise.

Emma Staples from Anglian Water said: “By not putting things like food, fats and wipes down our sinks and loos, we can all help avoid blocked pipes, and the sewer flooding, inconvenience pollution and bad smells that result.

“Clearing sewer blockages costs a huge amount of time and money, which could be better spent on improving the services we provide to customers.”

Fats quickly cool and solidify once down the drain, blocking the pipes. When this combines with wipes and other sanitary items wrongly placed in the sewer, they form giant ‘fatbergs’ and blockages that are difficult to shift and can cause sewage to back up and overflow, flooding homes and gardens.

Unfortunately, even the products marked ‘flushable’ do not break down in the sewer in the same way as toilet paper and can cause blockages. With one in every two adults in the UK purchasing some kind of wipe, this along with fats and greases is a rapidly growing problem.

In Kettering, wipes and sanitary products should be put in the black wheeled bin. Used cooking oil should be recycled where possible. Solid fat and small quantities soaked up in kitchen towel or newspaper can also be placed in the black wheeled bin.

Emma continued: “The Keep It Clear campaign is about getting everyone to understand the responsibility we all share to keep the sewers flowing and protect ourselves and our neighbours from the misery and inconvenience of sewer flooding.

“The street art is a fun way of showing people what a mess the sewers end up in if fats and wipes are not disposed of properly. And as well as information, tips and freebies to encourage people to adopt good habits to ‘Keep It Clear’, there will also be a competition to win a £50 Amazon voucher.

Guy Holloway, Head of Communications at Kettering Borough Council, said: “We are delighted to be working with Anglian Water on this initiative which is so important to reducing avoidable blockages and looking after the vital sewer network. We think the street art will really capture people’s imagination and encourage them to spread the word about the Keep It Clear campaign with their friends and families, to help prevent the horrible consequences of avoidable sewer flooding ever affecting them.”

Over the next year Anglian Water will be working to raise awareness of blockages and the Keep It Clear campaign among communities. More information and tips are available from www.keep-it-clear.co.uk where people can also order free sink strainers to stop food scraps blocking pipes too.

Customers are also reminded to call Anglian Water on 03457 145145 immediately if they think they have a problem with their drains.