Bizarre list of items found in Sussex sewers

Dealing with the mass of rags
Dealing with the mass of rags

Sussex tops a league of shame, with more than 2,521 tones of ‘rag’ pulled out of sewers across the county so far this year – the equivalent to nearly six fully laden jumbo jets.

Sewers and treatment works are built to deal with human waste and water, yet every year in the UK we flush away two billion items that shouldn’t go down the loo.

Known in the water industry as ‘rag’ this scourge of the sewers can include anything that has been incorrectly dumped down the toilet and does not break down in water – from wipes to nappies and needles, toys and tampons.

These un-flushable items drift through the sewers, causing blockages and contributing to sewerage overflows and causing headaches for customers.

That is why Southern Water has released a list of the worst offenders so far this year, with Sussex topping the list as the worst for rag.

Coming just below them is Kent, with 2,246 tones and then Hampshire with 1,934 tones.

Southern Water sewer man Stuart Slark said: “The only things that should be flushed down the toilet are the three Ps – pee, poo and paper. For everything else - Bag it and Bin it. It costs our customers £1.8m a year to have this removed and keep our sewers flowing. Taking simple steps can help save your money and our time.

“Over the years we’ve found some strange things dumped in our sewers including false teeth, teddy bears, dead pets and ’adult’ toys.”

Toilet paper decomposes naturally and can be flushed away safely, but non-biodegradable items, such as wet wipes, should be put in the bin.

Wet wipes are one of the biggest causes of blockages in sewers and at wastewater treatment works. Even wipes described as “flushable” cause blockages and the biodegradable ones often don’t spend long enough in the sewer to start to decompose.

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