Luxury toilet roll creating a sewer blockage hotspot at Harrogate postcode

A blocked sewer in Harrogate. Picture: Yorkshire Water
A blocked sewer in Harrogate. Picture: Yorkshire Water

Technicians have been called out to unblock Harrogate sewers over 185 times in the last two years according to Yorkshire Water, which has blamed the use of 'luxury toilet roll'.

The HG2 postcode area of the town has been identified as a sewer blockage hotspot by the organisation which has identified wet wipes as a major culprit.

A 'sewage crusader' at work on a blocked sewage system.

A 'sewage crusader' at work on a blocked sewage system.

The firm said wipes are becoming increasingly popular as a luxury toilet roll but planks of wood and bricks have also been found in the local sewer system.

James Harrison, Networks Manager at Yorkshire Water, said: "Healthy sewers are vital to avoid pollution incidents that damage the local environment and watercourses.

"In HG2, we're noticing a significant increase in the amount of sewer blockages that are impacting on the health of the sewers.

"To tackle this escalating problem, we plan to communicate with local residents and community groups to make customers aware of what can and cannot be flushed down the toilet or poured down the sink.”

Each blockage costs Yorkshire Water approximately £150 to repair and so the firm is urging residents in the area to only flush the ‘3Ps’ – poo, pee and paper - down the toilet.

It is also door knocking in the area to explain to residents how they can help avoid the problem.

The company also announced that over the next three years it will be investing £252 million to improve the quality of the region’s sewer network.

The HG2 area covers Oatlands, Woodlands, Hookstone, Rossett, Pannal Ash, Harlow Hill and Hornbeam Park.

There are hundreds of sewers throughout this area which carr domestic and commercial waste to the local Harrogate South sewage plant.

The task of keeping the sewers flowing is with the firm's team of sewer technicians, dubbed the ‘sewer crusaders’.

They use high pressure water jet sprays and suction vacuums to get rid of blockages to keep the sewers flowing.

James Harrison added: “We understand information from polyester wet wipes manufacturers can be quite confusing as some products say flushable on the packaging.

However, we would urge people to dispose of wet wipes in a bathroom bin at all times as although they may flush down the toilet they do not disintegrate like normal toilet paper.”

Wet wipes can take up to 100 years to disintegrate and when flushed down the toilet their fibres remain in rivers and seas for decades threatening marine life.

Alternatives are gel wipes, with the gel applied to toilet paper having the same soothing effect and which has the added benefit of being 100% flushable.