Fatbergs 'wreaking havoc' on Marlow's sewers

James Harrison

Fatbergs are ‘wreaking havoc’ in Marlow according to a water company.

Thames Water has labelled the town a ‘fatberg hot spot’ due to the increasing amount of time its engineers are having to spend clearing sewer systems of the blockages.

And it has prompted the firm to launch a new campaign titled ‘Bin it – don’t block it’ in an attempt to combat the sticky, and often smelly, problem.

Thames Water’s head of sewer networks, Matt Rimmer, said: “Often people don’t realise the consequences of putting things other than human waste and toilet paper down their toilets and drains but it’s time for everyone to understand and take action.

“It’s not just fat that’s the problem but wipes, often labelled ‘flushable’, are a massive issue too.

“They may disappear when you flush the toilet, but they don’t break down in the sewer pipes.”

Fatbergs are formed when leftover cooking fat and wet wipes congeal, blocking pipes and causing sewage to back up into homes, businesses and other public spaces.

This can lead to waterways becoming polluted.

And in the last three years 26 homes in Marlow have been flooded as a result.

Mr Rimmer added: “We’re lobbying manufacturers, Government and retailers to correctly label the wipes as unflushable and to change what they’re made from, but in the meantime we need everyone to put a bin in their bathroom and stop flushing them.

“We hope our campaign will encourage people to ‘Bin it – don’t block it’.”

The build-up of waste such as this, which is known as rag, was a major factor in a series of sewage spills across the Thames Valley between 2012-14.

The ‘unprecedented’ act of pollution, which also affected the Little Marlow Sewage Treatment Works, saw more than a billion litres of sewage unleashed by the utilities company.

In March, His Honour Judge Francis Sheridan slapped the firm with a fine of more than £20m.

However, at an earlier hearing Judge Sheridan had also said Thames Water could not always be held responsible for things which caused blockages in its systems.

He said: “There’s plenty that can be laid at their (Thames Water’s) door, but if people used their intelligence and stopped putting non-disposable nappies down the toilet then a lot of this could have been avoided.

“If you haven’t eaten it and it’s not lavatory paper, don’t put it down the lavatory – simple as that.”


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