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Dingwall and Alness named as ‘hotspot area for sewer blockages’

By Iona M.J. MacDonald

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Wipes which blocked a sewer in Dundee. Picture: Scottish Water.
Wipes which blocked a sewer in Dundee. Picture: Scottish Water.

Dingwall and Alness have been named as “hotspots” for sewer blockages.

Scottish Water’s sewer response teams are attempting to highlight how problematic it is when people wrongly flush wipes down toilets.

As a part of their Nature Calls campaign, the company will be leaving street stencils with the slogan “Another blockage cleared. Flushing wipes blocks pipes. Bin the wipes.”

Every day, Scottish Water clears about 100 blockages and wipes are found in 80 per cent of them — costing around £216 to clear an individual blockage.

Scottish Water is reminding folk to always dispose of wipes in the bin, along with other bathroom items such as period products and cotton buds, and to only flush the 3Ps down toilets: pee, poo and (toilet) paper. The company also highlighted that sewer blockages can lead to property flooding and pollution.

Sewer Response signage. Picture: Scottish Water.
Sewer Response signage. Picture: Scottish Water.

Towns which have been named and shamed for being “hotspot areas for blockages”, and set to receive a visit from Scottish Water later this year are:

• Fort William, Thurso, Wick and Alness, set to be visited in September.

• Dingwall, Buckie, Cumnock and Annan, set to be visited in October.

The towns will see Scottish Water community engagement teams laying down street stencils and posters, as well as hosting a stall in a local supermarket to discuss the issue of blocked sewer pipes and how we can all change our behaviour to prevent them.

Scottish Water will also give away free products to aid behaviour change, including: reusable wipes, small bathroom bins and gunk pots for kitchens to dispose of fats, oil and grease.

Garry Kirkwood, customer manager of sewer response at Scottish Water, said: “To some, the street stencils might be regarded as graffiti, but they are temporary and convey a very important message. The real damage is happening below the surface and it is this which we are highlighting with the stencils.

“They use environmentally friendly chalk-based paint that weathers and washes away naturally in around six weeks and, for safety reasons, they will be placed only on pavements and not roads.

“We will use them whenever our Sewer Response teams attend to clear a blockage and the towns that our Community Engagement teams attend have been selected because they all have a high number of sewer blockages for their population size.

“We hope the signage and stencils have a lasting impact wherever they are used.”

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