Water Firms Warn of Sewer Flooding From Grease, Wipes

The U.K.’s two largest water companies warned today that sewer flooding would worsen should people flush wet wipes in toilets and wash grease down sinks.

United Utilities Plc, the biggest publicly traded water utility in Britain, spends 20 million pounds ($31 million) a year on 53,000 blockages, it said in a website statement. Thames Water Utilities Ltd., with 14 million customers in London and parts of the Home Counties, said half of its 7,000 blockages a month are due to items that shouldn’t be flushed.

Sewers aren’t designed to take more than toilet paper, water and human waste, Rob Smith, Thames Water’s chief sewer flusher, said in the statement. “We’re seeing more and more fat and wet wipes, which should never be flushed even if the packaging says ‘flushable,’ ending up in our sewers.”

As many as 7,000 Thames Water customer gardens and 1,000 homes flood with sewage every year, half from “sewer abuse,” according to the statement. The utility plans to buy part of the output from a facility being built by PX Group that will use waste fat and oil from London drains to generate power. PX estimates 40,000 blockages a year in the capital come from fat.

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