Unsuitable items flushed down toilets and sinks across the country caused more than 40,000 blockages in drains and sewage treatment works last year and clocked up repair bills in excess of £7 million.
Now Scottish Water, the publicly owned company responsible for the nation’s water supplies and sewage system, is attempting to tackle the grease balls and other factors bunging up the pipes with a new campaign highlighting the problems of irresponsible disposal of waste.
One of the most common obstructions is caused by cooking fat, oils and grease mixing with bathroom waste such as cotton buds, nappies and baby wipes to create gigantic balls of congealed fat and debris that cannot be easily broken down.
These collect in large solidified clumps beneath Scotland’s streets, clogging the drainage network.
This leads to the misery of flooding for thousands of homes across Scotland and leaves householders and communities saddled with the worry and expense of repairing damaged property.
Worse still, overflowing effluent can leak into rivers and burns and pollute drinking water.
Chris Wallace, Scottish Water’s director of communications, said: “The waste water drain which runs from your house to the public sewer is usually only about four inches wide, which is less than the diameter of a DVD.
“We believe the best way to tackle blocked drains and sewer flooding is to work with our customers to prevent blockages that can clog up the cycle in the first place.”
Another major problem is the amount of unwanted food finding its way into the drainage network, despite an improvement in the recycling facilities on offer in many parts of the country.
Iain Gulland, director of Zero Waste Scotland, welcomed the launch of the initiative and said: “Where food waste is concerned, it’s important that consumers understand how to dispose of it properly. Food waste that cannot be used or avoided is easily recycled or composted.
“Over half of households across the country now have access to food recycling services and we are continuing to roll these out in towns and cities nationwide.
“Waste is a resource, and there are significant environmental and economic benefits for Scotland if we work to-gether to manage it more efficiently.”
Scottish water provides 1.3 billion litres of drinking water and removes 840m litres of waste water across Scotland every day.
The new awareness drive goes live tomorrow with a series of national TV, radio and press advertisements.
What a waste: down the drain
Fifty items found in sewers and treatment works:
An outboard motor for a boat; a working clothes iron; a scaffolding pole; a football; toy soldiers; a deckchair; timber; a dead sheep; a mattress; a parcel trolley; false teeth; golf balls; lighters; watches; a credit card; mobile phones; a live frog; a live badger; a traffic cone; a fax machine; a dead cow; a pair of trousers; a live otter; a live salmon; a tractor tyre; an Action Man figure; an orange; a railway sleeper; a bicycle; cuddly toys; pants; a goldfish; a snake.